Not Sure This Counts as the Actual First Snowfall of the Season

But I post this here for archival purposes nevertheless.

I mean, I did see snowflakes in the air last night, and this is snow accumulation, of a sort. But it seems sort of a poor showing to honor with the title of First Snowfall of the Season. So let me ask you: What do you think? Should this count? Tell me in the comments.

87 Comments on “Not Sure This Counts as the Actual First Snowfall of the Season”

  1. Our first snow, in Michigan, was at least 10 inches. So if this counts as your first, it is a sad sad day.

  2. NOAA measures snowfall in tenths of an inch where there is complete coverage of the ground. The amount shown does not cover the ground. You had snow falling, but you did not have a snowfall.

  3. Well, last weekend, a friend of mine ate wild strawberries. In november. In Burgundy, 80 miles from Paris. Give us some of your snow, please.

  4. I will ship you some of mine, if you like. Our “official trained NWS spotter” total was 13 inches. We have plenty to spare if you feel cheated.

  5. Nope. Not an Official First Snowfall there. A good frost, certainly, and the cool temperature might have wrung a few ice crystals out of the fog. But not an Official First Snowfall.

    We, on the other hand, had to shovel our driveway yesterday morning before we could head down to the Farmers’ Market to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey. Had about 3″ of heavy, wet stuff on the driveway, and about 6″ on the grass (it didn’t start sticking on the pavement until about halfway through the snowstorm). So if you are just really hankering for the full-on winter experience of shoveling snow before Thanksgiving, I can probably send you a couple of truckloads to dump onto your driveway. Wouldn’t want you to feel deprived, after all.

  6. When I was a grad student in Berkeley, I roomed in a private house for three years. One January there was screaming and shrieking from the two teenage daughters downstairs. “It’s snowing! It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” Investigation revealed that one of them had been talking to a friend who lived on the other side of Berkeley, and the friend had seen actual snowflakes falling outside. At least three snowflakes, maybe four. She was counting them as they fell, and then had to call all her best friends.

    I don’t remember my response. As a native of a mid-Atlantic state, I apparently went into culture shock, again. First earthquakes, and now femtoblizzards. What will these wacky Californians think of next?

  7. Consider that Berkeley it snows in Berkeley every 20 years or so, it’s not that surprising. Last time, 2009 up in the hills, but not down near campus.

  8. there was a slight snow flurry back in October, around the 20th or so, at least it was snowing in Shelby County. And I think people are mincing words when they “define” snowfall……it’s snow…it fell…hence, snowfall….whether or not it covers the ground…..and it’s measured in tenths of an inch because that’s how NOAA decided to measure, just like hundredths of an inch for rainfall. It doesn’t matter whether it covered the ground completely…….

  9. No. I remember the blizzard of 1978, which occurred about this time in Ohio, and this does not count in Ohio.

  10. That wee amount counts. It’s still snow. Of course, I’m in NM where every bit of precipitation matters.

  11. No. Doesn’t count. More like a sky fart, actually. Snow must be intentional to count; this looks like a small bit of incontinence.

  12. Well Merriam Webster defines snowfall as an amount of snow that falls in a single storm or in a particular period of time. So if snow fell it counts as a snowfall therefore it counts. Being from San Diego I had to look it up. Also since I am from San Diego some would discount my opinion. I’m ok with that. Maybe I will go to the beach today.

  13. Doesn’t count unless you can make a snowman… In Colorado, that would be considered a “dusting.” We had 10 inches last week and they closed the schools. We had blizzard conditions from 1 to 5 AM. That was a snowstorm…

  14. Interesting. Here on Long Island, we talk about the difference between snow “falling” and “sticking”. I have seen serious snowfall that did not stick (ie, it melted the moment it hit the ground because the ground was too warm) many times. This looks like a non-serious snowfall that only stuck on surfaces that were colder than the ground. So, first snowfall, fine, but first accumulation, no. And since snow is *more* likely to stick on grass than on pavement (held in the air by the grass, thus kept from hitting the warm ground), this makes it even less likely to count.

  15. The bottom line is what do you mean by “snowfall”. You throw in a mention of “accumulation”. It seems it did accumulate, because it can be seen by the naked eye. Perhaps the National Weather Service has some definition. But from a typical human’s point of view, very few people would have looked outside at sunrise, seen the scene you photographed, and yelled to their significant other that “Hey, it snowed last night!”. To me, the ground has to be 99% covered. even thinly, for the event to be called a “snowfall”.

  16. Wanted to add —

    It’s really interesting to have snow falling, see snow accumulating on the grass up to a half inch or so, and yet see the sidewalk right next to the grass look wet like it’s raining, with no snow visible at all. If it snows much harder than that, the snow starts to build up on the sidewalk faster than it can melt, and then we get true accumulation.

    Snow is fascinating to me since I grew up in los angeles but now live on long island.

  17. It’s more than we’ll get here in Austin. At least, I hope that’s the case. Otherwise, I might have to move further south.

  18. That is a dusting. Official first snowfall must at least include all grass being covered in white and staying white for an hour or so. (Sky fart, I love it!)

  19. I say no. This wasn’t even at the level of a sound check before the concert.
    Living in Seattle but being from Nebraska might temper my feelings on this. We have had out first snowfall but it was only above 4000 feet. Some of the Ski resorts are open this weekend.

  20. What is this snow of which you speak? Occasionally we get snow on the mountains above the 10000 foot level, and everyone goes up to play in it with their boogie boards; this amount of snow would sublimate before anyone made it to the top of the mountain. As a former Midwesterner, that’s just … sad.

  21. Watch out for the snow driving idiots John. Those South Carolina blizzards can be hell to travel in. Oh… wait… ummm, yer not in SC right? Heh.. my bad.

  22. I’m from Houston, so my opinion on white stuff falling from the sky is moot. We get snow maybe once every five years, and when we do, it looks about like the photo. That’s not counting global warming or El Niño. When we do get snow, it’s a major event. Schools are likely to close. The whole city is likely to shut down. With any real amount of snow or ice on the ground, people forget how to drive. But it may be a warm winter this year: We had temps above 100°F for over a week this summer, with lows then struggling to get below 90°F at night. If it gets much hotter, I may have move further north, such as Austin or Dallas.

  23. I grew up in southern Indiana, where this would be called “a skiff of snow.” As the usual definition of skiff is a small boat, I wondered where that phrase originated. The Dictionary of American Regional English says that is it more commonly spelled “skift” and that is is widespread though the Midwest, but doesn’t give an etymology. The Word Detective says that it is from Scots, which makes sense.

  24. It’s enough to convince me that you live in one of the many uninhabitable regions of the world. Frozen water belongs in drinks, not the environment! :)

  25. The phrase you’re looking for is First Measurable Snowfall. What you have here would only be remarkable in September or May. As presented, this is just…something for all of us to chit-chat about after a hellish week of reality.

  26. Any snow is snow…and I’m no longer so fond of snow, so yes, that would count. (And shut down Georgia at least until it was totally melted off; except the schools. The schools wait until they may have to house the kids at school before they shut down.

  27. It’s the snow equivalent of the first note in the Jaws theme. Snow is coming for you. It is ominously, relentlessly coming for you.

  28. Sorry. Not even close. But it’s a good time to to get a head start on imaging
    how unpleasant winter can be.

  29. I live in subtropical Australia. That is more snow than I have experienced in my life. (Disclaimer, I have never actually seen snow in real life, myself.)

    If we got snow like this in my city, it would be a tale told for 50 years.

    So, heck, yeah, that is a snow fall.

  30. That’s snow? My Aussie brain immediately goes “oh, you’ve got sand on the decking; where’s the broom?” Particularly with the visual cue of bright sunshine on the grass.

    (Yes, I have actually seen snow in my lifetime – my first winter in Canbrrra we had a dusting of the stuff similar to what Mr Scalzi received. The thing which struck me about snow falling was how quiet it was – stuff falling from the sky, and none of the noise of rainfall).

  31. I had a neighbor back in Pittsburgh who used to say it wasn’t the first snowfall till you could track a cat through it.

  32. Here in South Carolina, I think this would count. At least enough for everyone to talk about. Sure, it’s not one of our serious winter storms, but it’s still snow. Enough reason to go out and buy milk and bread. I used to live in New Jersey, where it certainly wouldn’t have counted. I think NJ didn’t start counting accumulation until the roads were covered. Still, I suspect even in NJ, this would have sent people out to stock up on milk and bread.

  33. It’s snow… Barely. 5-6 weeks ago when visiting relatives in VT we had a blizzard with maybe 1′ visibility. It hit while out driving. I’m going to have a hard time calling most of what we get in NJ this winter as real snowstorms after that.

  34. Nope. That’s not an official snowfall. It would be an official snowfall in parts of California, but only barely — when it does fall in the Bay Area, it’s deeper and sticks to the top of the hills way longer than that.

    That there is a dusting, tops. Maybe only a heavy frost. It would count as the first snowfall if it was September, but 2/3 of the way through November? Nope.

  35. Totally counts. There is no published minimum of snow that falls before you call it snowfall, ergo, it’s snowfall with the first snowflake swirling down. On the other hand, time and location will impact exactly how you report it. If you happen to live, say, in the north of Iceland and it snows around this time of year, you might say (totally non-sarcastically) something like “oh, it hardly snowed at all, it didn’t even reach a meter of even snow”, whereas in July, same location, you’d call light dusting of snow “a total blizzard, man!”.

  36. Linguistically, that’s clearly a snowfall IF there was an actual connection between the flakes our good host saw in the air and the “accumulation” on the deck. He didn’t actually SAY that he didn’t see flakes and then go clean out his freezer onto the deck.

  37. Nope. Even if you saw it snowing, it didn’t stick (that’s not snow sticking, that’s sort of… frost).

  38. I’ll second my fellow Alabamian up thread. In Alabama, that would be cause for full on panic/ However, in my native Ohio (I lived there six whole months!) and childhood home of Virginia, that barely counts as a dusting.

  39. That’s not even enough snow for me to make weather-panic jokes about the Washington, D.C. area where I live.
    Is it enough snow to make a snow homunculus? A nano-Frosty?

  40. Man, you can take the boy out of California but you can’t take California out of the boy. That’s not a snowfall, that’s what we call a dusting.

  41. The dandruff of seraphs…but no, in Ohio it doesn’t count. It would count around Puget Sound. (Schools would be closed; traffic would stop; lights might go out I’ve lived in both places and I know.) Pretty, though.

  42. It’s more of a Schrodinger’s snow. Still, Wake County NC would probably cancel school, just to be safe.

  43. I suspect that, by now, there have been more comments in this thread than snowflakes on Scalzi’s decking …

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