It’s snowing! In the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia at least.
Reports from places like Garrett County in western Md., where elevations routinely rise past 2,000-3,000 feet, indicate both snow falling and light (up to a few inches) snow accumulation today.
Why the October snow?
Behind the strong cold front that passed through yesterday, much colder air that’s threatening the first freeze in the immediate area in coming days is also mixing with some moisture rising up into the mountains. A process called upsloping is largely responsible for the precipitation formation.
The moisture sources here include a small passing mid-level system and lake effect moisture streaming in off the Great Lakes. In this case, a westerly surface wind is limiting low-level moisture transport just a bit, keeping totals on the light side. But, early in the season, any snow is good snow!
Snow at this time of the year is not too uncommon in the highest elevations of Maryland and West Virginia. Just last year, much of that region was paralyzed by snow related to Superstorm Sandy. Closer in to the city, it has snowed and stuck as recently as 2011 to close out October.
While a few flakes have been reported even around Hagerstown, Md., accumulation should remain limited to the very highest elevations due to temperatures just barely supportive of it sticking at that level. Midday sun rays penetrating the clouds also are likely to limit road impacts in areas seeing snow, though some tricky travel may occur after sundown.
It is possible someone closer to the D.C. area sees a flake or two mix in with any shower today, though the opportunity is probably dwindling and should mainly remain northwest of the area.
Take a look at some of the snowy imagery posted to Twitter…
— Josh Fitzpatrick (@WSAZJoshFitz) October 23, 2013
Nearly 2″ of fresh snow in Oakland MD. From Barbara Michael. pic.twitter.com/nRoUTCZNuN
— Alan Auglis (@alanauglis) October 23, 2013
SNOW! Right now in Terra Alta,WV. Be safe… here comes winter! pic.twitter.com/FS30XGYq4d
— april_kaull (@april_kaull) October 23, 2013
— Jeremy Edwards (@wsazjedwards) October 23, 2013
— herd Hater™ (@herdHater) October 23, 2013