State College: Snow Already?

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In case you’ve been fortunate to spend the majority of your time in the warm indoors the past week, you may have missed the flurries that have fallen throughout the day and night in State College. None of the snow has stuck to the ground yet and no professors have been so inclined as to cancel class, but there is a definite change in the air. When can we expect snow and how will it stick? VALLEY spoke to a student studying meteorology and atmospheric science to get the scoop and

Anything Out of the Ordinary?

With the temperature range that we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, substantial snowfall is unlikely. The ground is still too warm to provide the right conditions. According to Caroline Castora, a junior studying meteorology and atmospheric science, the reason you might’ve seen flurries is due to lake-effect snow from Lake Erie, which is when cold air blows over the warm lake and causes scattered snow showers. 

Temps were above freezing, so the lake-effect flurries can still fall but not stick. If the air was cold enough and a low-pressure system moved into our area it could’ve snowed too, but that isn’t as likely in our area around this time of year.

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Too Early for Snowflakes?

The snow we’ve seen so far is pretty on point for the average date of the first measurable snowfall for the last 100 years (Nov. 18), but snow could be coming sooner than expected this season. “There could be a couple of rounds of cold weather and some snow…the first two weeks of November,” said Accuweather’s Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. 

For lake-effect flurries, it’s pretty timely because the lake is still warm but the air is getting colder.

What Conditions Will Allow Snow to Stick?

The obvious answer is a ground temperature below freezing. Anything above in small amounts will melt. However, if the ground is above freezing but a substantial amount of snow is falling, it could accumulate on the warm ground. A good sign is if the ground is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or the snowfall rate exceeds one inch per hour.

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When Should We Expect Canceled Classes?

“Luckily, if professors don’t have time to prepare online lessons or if they have young kids they might be more willing to cancel classes completely,” Castora said. “Or, if there are blizzard conditions that knock out power, the university could give a snow day.”

Where Are the Best Spots to Sled on Campus?

When weather conditions are favorable enough for sledding, VALLEY recommends the HUB-Robeson Center lawn and grassy spots surrounding the Pattee and Paterno Library. 

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Have fun photos of past snow days in State College? Tag us, @VALLEYmag, on Instagram!


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