South-central Wisconsin’s first accumulating snow of the season could be just a preview, as snow could be falling on trick-or-treaters on Thursday, forecasters say.
Unofficially, the area saw 3 inches to a little more before the snow that began late Monday night moved out by about 5 a.m. Tuesday, and the next storm could deliver even more, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Boxell said Tuesday morning.
“I think we can safely the confidence is growing that we will see at least some snow around here on Halloween,” Boxell said. “Wednesday night and Thursday will be our best chance of seeing another round of accumulating snow. There’s just a lot of uncertainty exactly how much.”
The most likely scenario for the next storm is in the 2 to 4 inch range, with some models putting it less than that and some in excess of 4 inches, Boxell said.
AccuWeather said the next storm system is much larger than the first, and will likely disrupt Halloween activities across much of the eastern half of the country through the end of the week.
The 1 inch of snow Madison received on Monday (totals after midnight count for Tuesday) was a record for Oct. 28, breaking the prior record of 0.3 inches set in 1933 and 2002. It also made for the second-shortest time between 1-inch or greater snowfalls in Madison between snow seasons at April 27 to Oct. 28.
It was the first measurable snow Madison has received this snow season (since July 1), putting the total 0.6 inches ahead of normal.
Boxell said the Dane County Regional Airport hadn’t reported an official total for the storm counting Tuesday morning’s snow, but there have been a lot of unofficial reports of around 3 inches, with some closer to 3.5 inches, and perhaps as much as 4 inches falling north and northwest of Madison in the Columbus to Wisconsin Dells area.
Officially, the snowiest October day in Madison in the past 80 years was Oct. 26, 1997, when 3.8 inches fell, while the earliest snow of an inch or more was the 3 inches that fell on Oct. 10, 1990. The snow defied the odds, as only one in 10 Octobers has a day with more than 1 inch of snowfall.
Boxell said it’s unusual, but he couldn’t quantify how rare it is to have two snowstorms so close to each other in October.
The storms are coming from a large trough over the central U.S. and waves coming down and pulling up moisture from the south, he said, adding that in contrast, it was in the mid-50s in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday.
Don’t look for any strong warming trend: the extended outlook is for average to below-average temperatures for south-central Wisconsin, Boxell said.
The good news is that snow that falls this time of year typically melts away quickly.
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In Madison on Tuesday, look for mostly cloudy skies gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 40 and northwest winds at 5 to 10 miles per hour, the Weather Service said.
After an overnight low around 27, Wednesday features a 30% chance for precipitation in the form of snow before 10 a.m., rain and snow from 10 a.m. through noon, then rain after noon, with a high near 38 and north winds at 5 to 10 mph.
The chance for precipitation is 60% Wednesday night and Thursday, and 30% Wednesday night, starting as rain and snow, switching to all snow after 9 p.m. Wednesday, back to mixed precipitation after 1 p.m. Thursday, then back to snow Thursday night before ending.
The high Thursday should be near 36, sandwiched by lows around 29 and 23, with north winds gusting as high as 30 mph on Thursday.
Quiet weather should follow, with just a 20% chance for rain and snow Sunday night and Monday.
Skies over Madison should be partly sunny Friday, mostly cloudy Saturday, partly sunny Sunday, and mostly cloudy Monday, with highs near 38, 38, 41 and 43, and lows Friday night through Sunday night around 29, 27 and 32.
Monday’s high in Madison was 43 at 4:09 p.m., 11 degrees below the normal high and 29 degrees below the record high of 72 for Oct. 28, set in 1945, 1948 and 1974.
Monday’s low in Madison was 32 at 11:59 p.m., 3 degrees below the normal low and 16 degrees above the record low of 16 for Oct. 28, set in 1925 and 1969.
Officially, 0.14 inches of precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Monday, boosting Madison’s October total to 5.38 inches, 3.22 inches above normal. For meteorological fall (September through November), Madison now has received 12.18 inches of precipitation (rain plus snow converted to liquid), 6.89 inches above normal. For the year, Madison has received 41.77 inches of precipitation, 11.66 inches above normal.
Madison’s record precipitation for Oct. 28 is 1.06 inches in 1874.
And so it begins: Your dazzling 'first snow' photos from Instagram