First accumulating snow likely not far off

NOW: First accumulating snow likely not far off


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Snow has been flying in parts of South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois throughout the day Friday thanks to a weak weather system and sufficient cold air. Snow was reported in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa, and Chicago, Peoria, LaSalle-Peru, and Freeport, Illinois. That is just a handful of locations that saw snowflakes flying. It's not unheard of for snow to fall before the midway point in October, but it's certainly on the early side of things. Of course, today's snow won't go down as an official snowfall unless any particular city records at least 0.1" on the ground at any given time. 

So, this got us thinking: when can we expect the flakes to fly here in Michiana? Well, the first flakes have flown as early as late September and October. But the first measurable snowfall in South Bend (0.1" by definition) usually hold off until November 8th. However, the first snow has been as late as December 17th! 

When looking at the first average snowfall of at least one inch, the dates are a little later. Locations roughly along and north of the Toll Road typically see their first accumulating snow of at least one inch by Thanksgiving or just after. Areas farther away from Lake Michigan typically don't see their first snowfall of at least one inch until the first or second week of December! That can be attributed to Lake Michigan being warm, thus allowing lake effect snow showers to be possible nearest the lake.

Believe it or not, South Bend technically averages three-tenths of an inch of snow in October. It doesn't happen every year, but it has occurred multiple times in the past. The city sees about 13" of snow between November and December before seeing its average snow rise significantly into January and February. South Bend usually sees about 67" of snow a year. Most of that falls in the form of lake effect snow bands. The amount of snow typically seen in a year drops off dramatically as you move away from the lake. Here are a few cities and their annual snowfall averages:

  • Elkhart: 52"
  • Plymouth: 53"
  • La Porte: 62"
  • Benton Harbor: 85"
  • Winamac: 25"
  • Knox: 27"
  • Warsaw: 36"
  • Dowagiac: 66"
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