An October Oddity

Our final weekend of October brought some measurable snow to Charlottesville and the surrounding mountains. Are you wondering how unusual this was? Here's an answer for you!

Many people were left scratching their heads this past weekend as snowflakes fell during a time that would typically be dominated by leaf peeping and pumpkins. An early season Nor'easter transformed mountains that are typically yellow, red, and orange with colorful leaves to a blanket of white. Several inches of snow fell in the higher elevations, especially above 1500 feet. Even Charlottesville officially recorded a trace amount of snowfall at McCormick Observatory. Here's just how strange this October snow event was.

Using 109 years of records, measurable snow has only been recorded FOUR times in Charlottesville in the month of October. Yes, that includes the snow from just a few days ago, meaning prior to the weekend, measurable October snow had only occurred three times! To find the last October snowfall, you would have to go back to 1979! Here's a list of all of the October snowfall events that have taken place in Charlottesville.

October 29, 2011: 0.1"
October 11, 1979: 0.7"
October 10, 1979: 2.6"
October 19, 1940: 2.5"

As you can see by the numbers, an October snowfall event in Charlottesville only happens (on average) once every 30-40 years. Putting this in context really helps hammer home just how unusual this snowfall was. Of course it was nothing like what our friends in the northeast part of the United States received, where as much as 30" of snow was reported in some spots of Massachusetts!

Looking ahead, unfortunately there's no real correlation we can make about how snowy this winter will be or won't be based off of one early snowfall. I've asked the question on our Facebook page ( about whether you'd like to see an above average, near average, or below average snowfall season here. Leave your comment on Facebook or post it at the bottom of this blog in the comments section!

Until next time,


Also a special thanks to all of the climatologists at McCormick Observatory and the University of Virginia for providing us with this historical data about October snowfalls!

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