This will turn out to be one of the snowiest Octobers on record in parts of the northern United States. A series of early-season snows—beginning with a record-breaking storm earlier this week—will continue over the next couple of days as two storms take aim at communities from the Cascades to the Great Lakes.
A winter storm dropped more than half a foot of snow over the Upper Midwest on Tuesday, October 20. The storm produced 7.9 inches of snow at the airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is about as much snow as the city averages during the entire month of November.
Two more winter storms are in the works through this weekend. Some folks in the Dakotas and Minnesota could have another blanket of shovel-able snow by Thursday night.
The first storm will drop heavy snow farther northwest than the storm earlier this week, leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul with minimal snow and sleet accumulation.
Snow began Wednesday night across the western Dakotas and it’ll spread into Minnesota through Thursday morning. The National Weather Service’s latest forecast calls for up to 12 inches of snow to straddle the border between North Dakota and South Dakota, with totals closer to half a foot east toward Lake Superior. Communities to the south of the heavy snow could see a sloppy wintry mix that might leave a glaze of ice on exposed surfaces.
The next storm will sweep down from the northwest on Friday and Saturday. If the forecasts hold true, higher elevations in the northern Cascades and northern Rockies could see a couple of feet of snow. This kind of snow this early in the season will—at the very least—help ameliorate some of the drought that’s built into the region over the last couple of months.
These bursts of snow will be accompanied by a surge of bitterly cold air. Some of the predicted high temperatures in the northern Rockies are downright impressive for the end of October, with daytime high temperatures as frigid as 11°F expected at Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, October 25. The cold front will push dry and chilly air as far south as central Texas by the middle of next week.
While it’s not terribly uncommon to see accumulating snow in northern regions in the latter half of October, the recent snows pushed the records in some areas.
In addition to the record snow that hit Minneapolis a few days ago, Fargo, North Dakota, is also on track to measure the most snow they’ve ever seen this early in the season. The city’s already seen 4.8 inches of snow and that could climb near the double-digits by this weekend.
The northern Plains have seen some hefty October snows in recent years. A major storm dumped up to three feet of snow across central North Dakota in October 2019. A historic blizzard produced nearly five feet of snow in western South Dakota at the beginning of October 2013, knocking out power to many in the area and resulting in millions of dollars in livestock losses for ranchers.