Early Season Snowfalls in Europe and North America

November 10, 2012

Early snow

Photographer: (left) Renata Hari; (right) Kevin Chartier
Summary Authors: Renata Hari; Robert Leffler; Jim Foster

The photo above at left shows the aftermath of an exceptional early-season snowfall in Bisikon, Switzerland (near Zurich). Upwards of 10 in (25 cm) fell, at an elevation of about 1,725 ft (526 m), the night of October 28-29, 2012. Notice that even the deciduous trees still have their leaves. In most years, the first accumulating snow occurs here around Christmastime. Temperatures in Switzerland during the last few days of October were nearly 20 degrees F (11.5 degrees C) below normal.

The photo at right shows Main Street in Thomas, West Virginia following a record snowfall that occurred the night of October 29-31, 2012. Here about 32 in (81 cm) of snow was measured on the ground at an elevation of 3,700 ft (1,128 m). The NOAA Climate Reference Station in nearby Canaan Valley (3,400 ft or 1,036 m) received 4.03 in (10.2 cm) of liquid equivalent for just the snow part of the storm, which was associated with Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. This suggests that snowfall likely topped 40 in (101.6 cm) for this three-day event.

In the mid-latitudes there appears to be little correspondence between how early it snows and the severity of the ensuing winter.

Photo Details: Switzerland - Camera: Canon PowerShot S90; Focal Length: 9.6mm; Aperture: f/2.8; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 400. West Virginia - None.