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Don’t count snowflakes until they fall

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(BCR photo/Amelia Bystry)
Harvest in Bureau County came to an abrupt halt Tuesday morning as rain and then snow stopped combines in their tracks. Tuesday’s precipitation kept many farmers out of the fields even on Wednesday.

PRINCETON — If Tuesday’s snowfall can be trusted, Bureau County residents could be facing an early winter.

However, WQAD News Channel 8 meteorologist James Zahara isn’t counting any snowflakes until they fall.

On Wednesday, Zahara said Tuesday’s early snowfall is no sure sign as to the extent, or timing, of this year’s winter season. It’s just too soon to tell, he said.

“Any long-range outlook needs to be taken with a couple grains of cautionary salt,” the meteorologist said.

Looking at temperatures and the likelihood of more snow in coming weeks, Zahara said there are a few key forecast models that keep temperatures fairly cool through early November before things gets pretty mild around mid-November. Afterwards, a sharp decline in temperatures takes place going into December, he said.

Also, the current northwest flow may be a common occurrence going into December, Zahara said. A number of clippers will get caught in this flow bringing several rounds of light snow accumulations across the area as well, he said.

“I would not be surprised if a developing system out of the Rockies, otherwise known to us as a Colorado Low, brings our first healthy batch of snow just before Christmas,” Zahara said. “Time will tell.”

Looking back to Tuesday’s first measurable snowfall of the season, Zahara said the snow event actually ties with the 1913 snow event as the third earliest date of a measurable snow of 0.1 inch or greater in the Quad Cities area. The only earlier dates for a measurable snowfall were Sept. 25, 1942, when 0.1 inch of snow was received, and 0ct. 18, 1972, when two inches of snow were received.

The average date for the first 0.1 inch or greater of snowfall is Nov. 21, making Tuesday’s snowfall “a rare event,” Zahara said.

Locally, the Princeton Water Treatment Plant recorded a total of 1.5 inches of snow during Tuesday’s snowfall.

Though the National Weather Service may not be too dogmatic when it comes predicting the coming winter season, the creators of the Farmers’ Almanac are warning people of a “biting, bitterly cold and piercing” winter, especially for residents from the Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

As Zahara said, time will tell.

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