National Snow and Ice - October 2015

NCEI added Alaska climate divisions to its nClimDiv dataset on Friday, March 6, 2015, coincident with the release of the February 2015 monthly monitoring report. For more information on this data, please visit the Alaska Climate Divisions FAQ.

During October, warmer than average conditions were observed across the country with the exception of northern New England. The highest departures from average occurred across the West. The above-average temperatures limited the amount of snow that fell during the month, with no major snow events impacting the contiguous United States. According to NOAA's National Snow Analysis, at the beginning of October, 0.0 percent of the contiguous U.S. had snow on the ground. By the end of the month, the percent snow cover jumped to 2.9 percent of the Lower 48 — the highest elevations of the Central and Northern Rockies.

CONUS snow cover anomalies
U.S. October Snow Cover Extent Anomalies
Source: Rutgers Global Snow Lab

According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the monthly snow cover extent across the contiguous U.S. was 12,000 square miles, about 60,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This was the eighth smallest October snow cover extent in the 48-year period of record and smallest since 1999. The October U.S. snow cover extent can vary greatly, with the smallest on record being no snow cover (1977 and 1988) to the largest on record being 212,000 square miles (2009). During the month, below-average snow cover was observed across the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Alaska snow cover extent during October was 359,000 square miles, 6,600 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This was the 22nd largest October snow cover extent on record for Alaska. Below-average snow cover was observed across western parts of the state, while central and eastern regions observed above average snow cover.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Snow and Ice for October 2015, published online November 2015, retrieved on November 30, 2015 from