Could North Dakota’s First Snowfall Be Sooner Than You Think?
For four of the last six years in North Dakota, we have had early snowfalls.
Six years ago much of the state saw snowfall in late September. Five Autumns ago the same thing happened in North Dakota. Four years ago, not only did we see snow early, but it was a major blizzard.
From October 10th to 13th 2019, the state saw anywhere from a foot to three feet over much of the state. Here in Bismarck, we officially saw around 17 inches of snow. This came right before the weekend of the pheasant opener in the state. Travel was pretty much at a standstill except for the far western portions of the state.
This record-breaking October blizzard certainly left its mark by the time the storm finally began moving out of the area on Sunday. Total snow accumulations as high as 36 inches were observed near Harvey with drifts over 10 feet tall. These drifts were as high as some homes. Snow drifts between one and two feet were common in central and eastern portions of North Dakota.
Travel was just about impossible over much of the state as I-94, Highway 83, and other major highways were shut down because of the blizzard. Tree damage was also common, especially in eastern North Dakota where most trees had yet to shed all of their leaves.
If you remember, the timing of this blizzard was terrible for the farming community. Very few crops were out of the ground due to the already wet Summer and Fall. This storm delayed the Fall harvest, and in some cases, crops were not harvested until the Spring of 2020.
When will we see our first snowfall in Bismarck and the rest of North Dakota in 2023?
That is always the million-dollar question. After last season's near-record-setting snowfall (100-plus inches in Bismarck), I think a lot of people are a little gun-shy. I'm not a meteorologist, I'm just a weather nerd but I have done my homework looking at the long-range models, and after chatting with the fine folks at the National Weather Service, here's what I came up with.
October looks to be pretty warm. Above-average temperatures are expected for much of the month. The best chance for precipitation during the month is a period between October 11th to October 14th.
During this four-day period, temperatures will be below average but still too warm for snow. 50s for high temps and low temps in the low 40s. If the temperatures were to trend about 10 degrees cooler than expected during this period we could see our first snow of the season. However, this doesn't appear likely at this time.
Does that mean we're looking at another November first snow like last year? I think so, and at this point, it looks like it will be a non-event with just an inch or two of snow.
My fearless prediction for the Bismarck Mandan's first snowfall will be November 21st.
(My guess last year was November 15th and I was 10 days off as it came on November 5th, 2022.)
November doesn't look all that promising for big snow events in general and warmer-than-average temperatures. You might have to wait for December or even January if you want some significant snowfalls over North Dakota.
In the meantime, enjoy the fall colors and the warmer-than-average fall and maybe winter too, thanks to El Nino. Don't worry, winter will get here soon enough.
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