Seriously, October, WTF

Snow. On October 23rd. Seriously, that’s just not cool, y’all. My memory on this may be faulty, but I suspect this is the earliest in fall that it’s snowed at my house since I moved to Ohio in 2001. The good news is that it’ll probably melt by the end of the day, since it’ll get up to about 50 degrees. But still. Some things are just not right. October snow in Ohio is one of those things.

81 Comments on “Seriously, October, WTF”

  1. A couple of years ago here in the godless northeast, we had a late October snowstorm that knocked out power for much of Connecticut for anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks. Global weirding. Expect more of the same.

  2. Oh, I don’t know. I grew up in the Detroit area, and I can remember epic battles with my mother over whether or not I’d wear my snowsuit over my Halloween costume to go Trick-or-Treating in the snow. That was half a century ago.

    Now, the 80-degree weather we had in March 2012, THAT is global weirding in a big way. But snow in October? Nah, just the Midwest.

  3. Colonel, are you familiar with the term “lake effect”? Snow is not unusual in CT, but heavy snow in October, is.

  4. Holly Jahangiri – Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.
    Holly Jahangiri

    That’s pretty. I have to second Colonel Snuggledorf’s comment, though – I remember those rare ruiners of Beggars’ Night/Trick-or-Treating. Snow was better than rain, though!!

    I even remember one year when we had snow on June 5 – the last day of school ended up being a “snow day” too! :) That was in the early- to mid-1970s. 1976, I think.

    It’s pretty, anyway – thanks for sharing the picture!

  5. Lived in Ohio almost all of my life. October snow used to be something we expected back in the 70’s. Typically light flurries that were gone about as soon as they hit the ground, but this recent trend towards not seeing even the lightest flurries until late November or sometimes even January is not what I recall as the norm.

    Now when I spent a few years in Minneapolis, the first year I was there, the first snow of the year fell on Halloween. And kept falling for over 24 hours dumping over 2 feet of snow. So glad I bought boots the day before.

  6. Ah, it’s once again that time of year when nature reminds me why I moved to Texas and still put up with our Julys and Augusts. North of the Mason-Dixon Line is no natural habitat for hairless apes. Snow: fun for a day, abominable for six months. Enjoy :)

  7. I live in the mountains of NC, and ours is coming today & tomorrow. I think we’re going to pay this year for the abnormally mild winter we had last year. Weather karma is a bitch.

  8. Sharon, sure I’m familiar with lake-effect snow, though the suburb where I grew up was far enough inland from the lake that we got little if any of it.

    I don’t doubt that your Connecticut snowstorm was atypical for that part of the country, and it could very well be due to the undeniable climate changes we’ve all been experiencing. However, snow in October in the Midwest is very much the norm. Hasn’t happened as often over the past couple of decades as it did back in the mid-20th century, but it’s not at all unusual.

    Mr. Scalzi, if you haven’t yet gotten your snow-thrower in for its annual tune-up, probably best get that done today. In my recollection, years when we had measurable snow in October were generally characterized by plenty more of the white stuff all winter long.

  9. Australia currently has major bush fires in October. That is two months early. Last year we had large snow dumps in October. That was two months late. The weather is becoming very unpredictable. I think we will be seeing a lot more weird weather.

  10. In central Ohio we just missed the snow and instead have nearly freezing rain. I tried explaining to my kids why this was a goodness–that October snow is purest evil–but they still whined about not having snow.

  11. I grew up near Akron, and live there now – and I too find October snow to be surprising. I still remember my shock when I went to Minneapolis for grad school – snow on October 1st! It’s been a weird year for weather and I guess the surprises aren’t over yet.

  12. In 2008, it snowed on Easter day in the UK – March 23rd. I made a snowman and had a snowball fight with friends.

  13. When I lived in Ohio I was impressed how much more often it iced up down there than in Michigan. Here, we just had frost this morning, though I heard they were predicting snow for this week.

    All signs point to a long winter. Reminds me of my childhood.

  14. @sendaiben, I’d find that a whole lot funnier if it weren’t for the fact that so many people — including at least one US senator on the Committee on Environment and Public Works — would think it was an insightful remark.

  15. I’m from Dayton originally, when I was a kid there used to be snow in October now and then, and snow in November was pretty common. This shit where it doesn’t snow until December or even January is new. I wish it snowed where I live now… still 70 degrees, sigh.

  16. Heh. Lived in South Dakota for 7 years. We had snow, anywhere from an inch or two up to more than a foot – before Halloween six of those years. I now live in Southern New Jersey, and I get gob smacked by the panic the majority of people here get into when even an inch of snow is predicted. Worse,very few people here have any idea of how to drive on winter roads, especially when there is ice on the roads under the snow. Makes me nervous when I have to drive in it – not because I can’t do it, but I’m afraid of the clueless, driving 50 – 60 on seriously icy roads… Lots and lots of accidents the first day or so after snow storms here.

  17. From one Pat to another – I used to live in NJ, and my theory was that something made everyone else forget about snow from one year to the next. I remember one morning when we had about as much snow as John’s picture shows. I left for work a little early, but got caught in traffic, because every one else was driving at about 7 mph. I know this, because it took me an hour and a half to drive 11 miles. I think I could have walked faster!

    But seriously folks, one October snow storm does not a climate trend make. It’s just weather.

  18. “Makes me nervous when I have to drive in it – not because I can’t do it, but I’m afraid of the clueless, driving 50 – 60 on seriously icy roads…”

    Exactly right. I grew up in Chicago, where snow in October wasn’t all that unusual. We then moved to Houston. When I was a junior in HS (four years after we moved), they closed school for two days because there was just enough frost on the ground that it crunched when you walked, but you could still see green grass underneath. The whole damn city basically shut down for those two days because nobody down here knows how to drive on icy roads–except the Yankee transplants, like us.

  19. Here in Sandia Mountains of central New Mexico, we almost always get one snowfall before Halloween and then nothing until January.

    Sidewalk is interesting. For some reason, I expected it to be etched and filled with swirly copper inlays, and the whole thing polished mirror-bright.


  20. Sorry but night time snow on Oct 23 in Ohio doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Actually it sounds about right. Maybe you’ve just forgotten?

    Mumble years ago while a U of Delaware undergrad, I gave blood in mid-October. When I went into the Blood Bank van mid-day the ground was bare. When I came out, we had about 2 inches on the ground at it was still snowing. Of course there’s always anecdotal evidence on both sides of something like this, isn’t there?

    Still, over decades weather maps tend to show colder weather & more snow in the Midwest (including western PA) than DE ever gets. You get snow–we’re “blessed” with freezing rain. Right now our night temps are hovering 5-6 degrees above freezing & there’s usually a cold snap just before trick or treating. Add a bit of moisture I wouldn’t be surprised at a dusting of snow here in the next couple of weeks. Actually my unprotected gardenias on the balcony pretty much guarantee we’ll have snow.

    To “HappyAss”. Global warming is characterized by climatic instability not just by warmth. To put it in simplistic terms, our thermostat and humidity controls are shot. Hence, far more tornados and more destructive ones over a wider area, deadly floods in Colorado yet seemingly permanent drought in Texas & several other States, plus violent Sandy-like hurricanes one season & virtually -no- hurricanes the next.
    Nature is out of balance (Koyaanisqatsi, 1982).

  21. I remember the first year I moved to Colorado the mountains were completely snow-covered above 10K feet in mid-August, we had a foot and a half of snow in mid-September, and had a 36″ blizzard on Halloweeen. I was snowed on in every month of the year. (I lived at about 7200 feet; there they gave snow reports by elevation, “Snowing above 6500 feet and mixed/rain at lower elevations.)

  22. Friend of mine who grew up in the Buffalo region of NY told me about wearing a snow-suit for trick-or-treating, so it doesn’t entirely surprise me that you get snow this early in Ohio.

    That said, and looking at your picture, that’s the way I like my snow. No more than a couple of inches which is enough to look pretty and little enough to be gone by lunch time!

  23. mandyevebarnett – Alberta, Canada – I have lived on several continents in my life - because of this I have a deep sense of their varied spiritual, physical and emotional depths. My imagination draws from my unconscious and remembered events and feelings giving my creativity a unique flavour. Children's books - Rumble's First Scare, Ockleberries to the Rescue.YA books - Clickety Click and Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria. Adult books - The Rython Kingdom, The Twesome Loop and Life in Slake Patch. Books all available from: and Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo etc. My blog is -

    We had snow 10th October 2012!! Alberta.

  24. When I was a kid, I think we had about a 1-in-3 chance that there would be snow on the ground before or during trick-or-treating.

  25. Here in sunny Pomona, the roses are still blooming, and the jacarandas are revving up for their second bloom period of the year. It makes for an interesting interpretation of Fall colors.

  26. Aw hell, John, I grew up about 20 miles from Bradford. You don’t like the weather? Stick around for five minutes, it’ll change! ;)

  27. In Minnesota, I’m told there has been snow recorded in every month except August (one year there was snow on the fourth of July).

  28. 75 and sunny in Oregon yesterday – 11 days with no rainfall, in October, in western Oregon?? Weird weather indeed, but I’ll take it! (Although the moss behind my ears is starting to dry out….)

  29. I’m in Anchorage (the one in Alaska, not the one in Kentucky); we had snow that lasted for about a day in mid-September, and haven’t even had frost since, with none predicted any time soon; our first snow of the season (that sticks) has been moving from mid-October to early November.

  30. In fairness to the Southerners who “don’t know how to drive on snow and ice”, they don’t have the infrastructure for it. I’m great at driving on snow and ice–when the salt/sand truck has been though. And, of course, if there’s a layer of smooth ice under the snow on the road (because no salt), nobody can safely drive on it unless they have chains or studded tires (both illegal in many states).

    I once absolutely had to make a delivery for legal reasons to a library that was only open two days a week, and there was an unexpected ice storm, so the salt trucks weren’t out. I ended up sliding through a stop sign intersection (luckily(?) the only cross traffic was a stopped police car). I got a ticket for “driving too fast for conditions”. How fast was I driving? Less than 5 mph. He was right, though; I was driving too fast for conditions. Moving at all was too fast for conditions.

  31. Seattle’s been having a string of cool summers, though this past one was like the ‘old’ days. Times, they are a’changing.

    Buy land in Manitoba now.

  32. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    Man, I’ll take that. It’s been 70 or so here in Maine for a few weeks. WTF October on the other end of the scale.

  33. THIS IS YOUR OWN FAULT MR. SCALZI!!!!! If we humans hadn’t pumped enough CO2 to choke an entire herd of elephants several billion times over, this crazy weather and climatic instability wouldn’t be happening!

    Also, Gulliver: May the seven Arrows of Sekhmet curse you for all eternity! May exploding donkeys trample your ghost!

  34. @HappyAss – yep, global warming all the way LOL

    I’m not sure what kind of point you’re trying to make, but I think that following it by an “LOL” (are you really laughing? I doubt it) might make you sound haughty and superior.

    L. O. L.

  35. Large, natural deviations in weather patterns NEVER happen. Nope, never, not once in human history.


    Sometimes I wonder why I always have to explain basic things as if to a child to the horribly-misnamed “reality-based community”

  36. We live in North Dakota, about an hour’s drive from the Canukistan border and we’ve seen the dreaded white stuff, but none that stuck around. Next Monday we get our first Alberta Clipper, which is a wind outa “up north” that has been known to make brass monkeys sopranos. We usually don’t see that beast until December but I’m sure folks like HappyAss can explain that as well.

  37. Today is my birthday. One year, as a kid (I grew up in the ’70s in Eastern Canada) my mom was trying to get me to tell her what I wanted for my birthday. And I said the same thing every time she asked: Snow. I wanted it to snow on my birthday. Finally, in exasperation, she said “Fine, it’ll snow on your birthday. Now what else do you want.” So my birthday rolls around, and I get out of bed and run to the window to see… Snow. Overnight, we got a bunch of snow. School-cancelling snow. Up-to-my-knees snow. Paly-in-it-until-you’re-exhausted snow. Best. Birthday. Ever. Best. Mom. Ever.

  38. We are still removing downed branches & trees felled by our Oct. 4th 30+ inches of snow here in the Black Hills. I’m hoping it wasn’t a taste of things to come.

  39. Now, the 80-degree weather we had in March 2012, THAT is global weirding in a big way.

    I am so envious. That would do wonders for my March air-conditioning bill.

    Snow would be awesome, too. We had some back in 1985, and the kids remember it to this day.

  40. Large, natural deviations in weather patterns NEVER happen. Nope, never, not once in human history.


    Sometimes I wonder why I always have to explain basic things as if to a child to the horribly-misnamed “reality-based community”


  41. I would like this thread a lot better if people weren’t getting tiresome about What It All Means that I had snow on my front porch on October 23rd. It’s unusual for me. It’s not to say it’s particularly unusual in the larger scheme of things. Not every thing has to be indicative of some larger, and therefore argumentative, thing.

  42. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say when there is a blizzard in April. I kind of miss snow in Ohio after moving to Florida. But not really.

  43. Isn’t the first snowfall of the year great! As other Minnesotans have already posted, we can get snow up here at almost any time of the year, but the first snow of the fall is always a spirit -lifter. We’ve had a few flurries in the Twin Cities so far, and I’m sure there is more on the way soon. I can hardly wait. Winter rocks!

  44. Currently a snowless Minnesnowtan. That will change in the next month, I’m sure. We’ve already had snow, but it was gone in the morning. I remember the Halloween Blizzard.

    We used to have “First Day of Sliding” here for the cars and small trucks; people would bend their car’s fenders on other cars and the occasional tree or fence, and then for the rest of the winter they’d remember how to drive when it’s slippery. These days, any snowfall over a half-inch is “Another Day of Sliding”, people don’t seem to learn. You need good tires and to SLOW DOWN. Four wheel drive, traction control, and ABS don’t work well on snow and ice unless you have good tires and lower velocity going into the accident you want to avoid.

  45. Yikes, and I was just complaining that it was under 70 degrees today (Southern California– so we’re in for a couple more heat waves before December). QUICK! Make the tiniest snowman!

  46. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather have your snow than the fog that’s been socking us in for the last week (and is predicted to hang around for at least another week) here near Seattle. I would rather have *anything* but this fog, just about. It’s like being in a windowless room, day after day after day…

  47. Jessa Slade – <strong><a href="">Jessa Slade</a> is the author of the <a href="">Marked Souls</a> urban fantasy romance series (NAL Signet Eclipse), the <a href="">Steel Born</a> paranormal romance series (Harlequin Nocturne Cravings), and award-winning self-published science fiction romance with <a href="">Hotter on the Edge</a>. You can find her online at all the <a href="">usual haunts</a>.</strong>
    Jessa Slade

    Meanwhile my dog and I frolicked in 70+ sunshine in Oregon. If that sounds like gloating… Frolic! Frolic!

  48. @Tim,

    Oh, how you talk. This is why I don’t put my tomatoes in till after Cup Day. Lost some little basilings, though. I was talking to a couple of very nervous grape-growers over the weekend; those frosts are threatening to cut a really promising vintage very short.

  49. mehhhhhhhhhhhhhh… you should try early October snow in South Carolina…. had that several years back… and by early, I mean in the first week or so. Besides, even here we would call that a dusting.. not really snow. Sure ain’t enough for snow cream.

  50. The way the light hits the snow makes it look like the night sky has floated down and settled over your lawn — as if you’d have to brush the stars away like curtains or cobwebs to walk across it. Beautiful photo, thanks for posting it.

  51. I just moved from the San Diego area to northern Colorado, along the Front Range. We had snow last week, just a couple of inches, and are expecting more next week. My friends at home in 80-degree weather are just shaking their heads and tsking at me. This is going to be a verrrrry interesting winter for a So. Cal girl!

  52. Great picture. I like the snow-like-stars effect too.

    When I was growing up in Indiana (80s-90s), first snowfall before/during Halloween (even a light dusting) meant White Christmas and an extra cold, snowy winter.

  53. Uggh. That brings back nightmares of the winter of ’11/’12 here in Connecticut where winter started about this time and didn’t finish until it dropped roughly 150 inches six months later.

  54. I’m originally from Colorado, and I seem to remember comments most every year about how snow in September was so unusual…

  55. Dear Nancy M: I did the opposite move. I predict you may implode or sublimate in mid-January when the dreaded “Stock Show Weather” sets in. It was always such a joy waiting for the school bus and feeling the hairs in my nose freeze up and cheering wildly when the mercury finally broke 0 F.

  56. The snowflakes look like stars, and the lighter background sky where the trees aren’t look like a thin nebula or something.

    “Welcome… to Night Vale.”

  57. *ahem* I din’t know you were allowed to say “y’all” in Ohio… Read the old man’s war series, loved it, and in an afterward on the digital version it sent me here. And you said “y’all”…. in…. Ohio.

  58. Brandon: “y’all” is useful. You don’t have to have grown up in the former Confederacy to realize that. (It makes translating “ustedes” less clunky, for one thing….)

  59. Ustedes… yeah.. y’all is a pretty good translation.. if not recognized by the diccionario types.

  60. Here in Silicon Valley we had half a summer of 65-degree days (that’s the high, not the low; normal highs are in the low 80s), and it rained in early September, which Just Not Done!

    One of the weird things about moving to California was the local driver’s license exam questions, which not only had a question about there being ice hiding on bridges (for people from the part of the state where that’s rare), but also had a question about what’s dangerous about the first rain of the season (to an easterner, that means “umm, it might be a Monday when people are hung over?”). Since we typically get 6-8 months of no rain, oil builds up on the roads instead of getting washed away, so they’re extra slick for the first rainstorm or two.

    When I went to school in Central New York State, we’d typically get a light snowstorm or two in early-mid October, but nothing that would stick around until late October or early November.

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