We’ve had plenty of pleasantly benign weather days this month, but yesterday was one of those raw October days that really speak to the seasonal progression. Temperatures in the valleys even stayed well down in the 40s F, and a storm passing through the area brought bouts of heavy rain that made walking around outside a rather rough experience. I wasn’t sure if this storm was actually cold enough to bring in some snow to the area, but sure enough, Powderfreak was already posting snowy images from Mansfield this morning and letting us know that the snow level was down to 3,000 feet. Once the clouds began to break away from the mountains in the afternoon I was able to snap an image from my office of the new white near the peak of Mansfield behind some of the colorful foliage still hanging on in the Champlain Valley. We’ve got a potent storm coming into the area Sunday that is expected to bring a lot of wind and rain, and next week there’s the chance for a bit more snow in the area as we get some cooler temperature and a flow that could bring moisture over from the Great Lakes.
It hasn’t been an especially cool fall thus far in Vermont, and in fact we had some rather warm days with temperatures up to 90 degrees F for the Champlain Valley last month. It’s hard to think of potential snow with temperatures like that! Due to the heat, we actually delayed our September apple picking trip to Boyer’s Orchard with the Bennetts and the Burseys for one week to wait for a more autumnal feel. The temperatures and generally fair weather have certainly made for some fantastic outdoor activities, but the warmth may have altered the timeline for the development of the fall foliage color. In any event, by the beginning of last week I could already see that we were past peak color in the Winooski Valley. Bare trees were numerous throughout the hillsides, leaving at least small gaps in the colorful views.
It’s funny, but despite the warm weather in recent weeks, we actually had some September snowfall on Mt. Mansfield and other peaks in the region. We don’t get September snow every year, so it’s quite interesting that things came together to put some white on the peaks so early during a warm period.
With the fall foliage around and especially with the colors now beginning to wind down, more snow usually isn’t far behind, and indeed today’s dramatic drop in temperatures from the 70s F we had just yesterday evening made it really feel like we were transitioning further into fall. We never got out of the 40s F in the valleys, so there was definitely a bit of a bite out there with wind on top of those temperatures. While heading to a class today here on the UVM campus, it absolutely felt like one of those days where it could easily be snowing along the spine. And, lo and behold, when I later checked in on the Northern New England fall thread on the American Weather Forums, Powderfreak was already reporting accumulating snow down to 2,700’ on Mt. Mansfield. He posted some additional pictures later, showing how the snow had a hard time accumulating on the warm ground in most areas and was typically found on the trees. He did report snowfall down as low as 1,500’ in elevation though, probably via help from the orographics of the Green Mountain Spine. The Bolton Valley Facebook page also posted an image of flakes getting down to the Village, and I’m sure many of the local mountains saw flakes as well.
I hear Killington also took advantage of the cooler temperatures to test the snow guns, so we’re certainly on our way. The longer range forecasts suggest a possible stretch of colder weather near the end of the month into November, so we’ll see what potential that brings with regard to manmade or natural snow.