Southern New England Weather History - October

From the NWS Archives
Significant Weather Events for Boston and Southern New England -
Oct 1 Warmest low temperature, 69F, 1954
Oct 2 Earliest recorded snow, trace, 1899
Oct 3 F4 tornado at Windsor Locks, CT, 1979
$250M damage, 500 injuries, 11 miles long
Oct 4 Earliest measurable snowfall at Albany, where 6.5", 1987
20" reported in parts of the Catskills; power outages of up to 2 wks
Oct 7 Highest temperature, 90F, 1963
Oct 9 Beginning of 44 days without measurable precipitation, 1924
Oct 10 Earliest measurable snowfall, 0.2 inches, 1979
Oct 11 Highest pressure, 30.78 inches, 1972
Oct 12 Highest temperature, 90F, 1954
F2 tornado causes $25,000 damage in Worcester, length 4 miles, 1962
Oct 20 Stile's hurricane, 1770
Oct 20-21 Greatest 24 hour precipitation, 6.66 inches, 1996
Oct 23 Coldest high temperature, 38F, 1969
Oct 23-24 Winthrop's hurricane, 1761
Oct 25 Highest average one minute wind velocity, northwest 63 mph, 1933
Oct 26 Lowest temperature, 25F, 1879
Oct 27 Lowest temperature, 25F, 1936
Oct 28-31 Halloween storm, 1991
A noreaster that brought record breaking damage to the coast.
[For more information on what became known as The Perfect Storm, see also:


In the movie The Perfect Storm, the meteorologist, supposedly me,
Todd Gross, never mentions something very peculiar that happened
on Cape Cod at the beginning of the storm. It only happened
on the Cape, and is very unsual considering the time of year,
and the fact that the storm began and ended as a Hurricane.
What was it about the precipitation specific to the cape that
I reported on at the very beginning
of The Perfect Storm on October 30th, 1991?

ANSWER: The so called "Perfect Storm" began as Hurricane Grace,
and finished as an un-named, but official Hurricane during
the 1991 season,  after being an extra-tropical storm in between
while it pounded  the eastern New England coastline.
As winds picked up noontime on October 30th it was cold and dry,
with no precipitation initially to be found except for one place:
Cape Cod. Ironically it wasn't just rain though,
there were winter time ice pellets mixed in with the rain
on the Cape.  By the time the rain worked inland the air had warmed,
and no longer was there any winter precipitation in areas
that normally get it more than the Cape at that time of year.
So even though the storm began as a Hurricane associated with
summer,  and ended as one as well.. when it first arrived,
it caused sleet, or ice pellets on Cape Cod!

The biggest danger associated with most early autumn snow is not necessarily with travel but with the possibility for falling tree branches.  In most cases, early season snow will cause only minor inconveniences to traffic since road surfaces are still above freezing. So, unless it is snowing heavily, the snow will generally melt off highways.  Early season snowfall typically has a high water content. With surface temperatures usually near freezing, the snow will accumulate on trees and power lines. Since trees will still have leaves at this time, the additional weight of the snow can cause branches to break off and damage power lines. In some cases, this can cause power outages across a large area. The worst example of this occurred on October 4, 1987 in eastern New York and western New England (Bosart and Sanders, MWR, 1991).  Albany, New York received 8 inches of snow with up to 20 inches in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. The heavy, wet snow caused significant damage to trees across the area.  And with branches falling on power lines, the storm produced widespread power outages with some locales without power for a week.


An Early-Season Coastal Storm:Conceptual Success and Model Failure ,

Lance F. Bosart and Frederick Sanders

An unusual early-season snowstorm dumped more than 50 cm of snow over portions of interior eastern New York and western New England on 4 October 1987. This was associated with poorly forecasted cyclogenesis. In the wake of atmospheric cooling associated with upward motion and cold advection, additional cooling associated with melting snow in a heavy precipitation region aided in the creation of a low-level dome of cold air to the west of the surface cyclone track. This allowed heavy snow to fall at low elevations. The absence of low-level warm-air advection over the snow region was crucial to the maintenance of the cold dome as relatively warm maritime air to the east was prevented from reaching the area, eroding the cold dome and changing the snow to rain.

The storm was also noteworthy because its development was in accordance with well-known qualitative quasi-geostrophic principles, but the NMC operational prediction models, while simulating the 500-mb circulation well, failed to predict accurately the storm development off the mid-Atlantic coast and its associated precipitation. An investigation of the Regional Analysis and Forecast System (RAFS) initialized fields revealed a critical underestimate of the vertically integrated moisture and lower-troposphere vorticity and divergence in the coastal baroclinic zone of the incipient storm environment at 1200 UTC 3 October 1987. Despite plentiful forcing aloft, the RAFS was never able to simulate the surface development successfully with the improperly analyzed low-level wind field and vertically integrated moisture field.

source: NWS archives


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