The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooler, and soon frost will make its mark. We all know what’s coming. SNOW. That dreaded four-letter "S" word.

The technical definition for the ‘first snowfall’ is snowfall accumulations of at least an inch or more. According to, Waterloo averages .3” of snow in October and 3.1” in November.

The average date for Cedar Rapids to receive its first inch of snow is the first week of December. The earliest occurrence of at least an inch of snow in the City of Five Seasons was October 18th, 1972 when 1.3” was measured.

On October 25, 1898, a record of six inches of snow fell in Waterloo. That’s the snowiest day EVER in October for Waterloo. Since 1895, it has NOT snowed 68 years in October in Waterloo, most recently in 2016, according to The average time for the first inch of snow to fall in Waterloo is the final week of November.

attachment-noaa first snow

One thing to remember when it comes to snowfall forecasting this time of year is the ground temperatures. The models may show snowfall accumulations, but typically the ground temperatures are still above freezing, which will either melt a lot of the snow or reduce the amount of snow that does accumulate.

If you remember on Halloween 2019, many parts of Iowa had their first snowfall of the season. Waterloo, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City all broke the record for most snowfall on October 31st with accumulations of around half an inch. Dubuque recorded six inches!

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