Mapping the First Day of Snow
Mapping the First Day of Snow
October 29, 2015 Around the Web

An interesting effort from NOAA as they share a process for mapping the approximate first day of snow

Mapping the First Day of Snow

Mapping the First Day of Snow

Colored dots indicate the date by which there’s a 50% chance at least 0.1” of snow will have accumulated, based on each location’s snowfall history from 1981-2010. Click the map for a larger version with more detailed categories. Map by NOAA, based on analysis of the US Climate Normals by Mike Squires, National Centers for Environmental Information. *Update: 10/27, 3:43 pm. We’ve released updated versions of these maps. The original versions were missing some locations in the “August or year-round risk” category. Also, Alaska has been added to the large version of the map.

A quick look at the map reveals the obvious: the main factors that govern the average day of your first snow are the same main factors that govern your other major climate characteristics: latitude and altitude. In general, the farther north you are, and the farther up you are, the earlier the threat of first snow. In fact, the highest elevation stations along the spines of the Rockies have a year-round threat of snow. On the other end of the spectrum, the Deep South, Gulf Coast, Desert Southwest and Hawaii have many stations that get snow so infrequently, there’s no date listed (empty circles). In these places, there just aren’t enough events to make robust statistics.

There are also a few interesting, but more subtle, regional features. Across the Plains and Midwest, instead of a straight-up east-west pattern, there’s a slight northeastward tilt, where earlier dates plunge farther southward in the plains, relative to the more Midwestern states. It’s especially noticeable along a line stretching roughly from the Texas panhandle to Chicago. This has a little bit to do with elevation, but more to do with the fact that the coldest air associated with many winter storms—including early winter storms—often barrel down the high plains, corralled by the Rockies to the west.

Read more from NOAA on this project HERE

(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)
Comments are closed