Column: October, a little bit of everything

WCCO Chief Meteorologist Chris Shaffer


October is one of my favorite months as a forecaster because we see a little bit of everything. For example, 10 years ago today we set a record high of 87 degrees. Twelve years ago today we frowned as a trace of snow fell on our yards.

This is the month we endure a few mornings with frosty yards. We typically get our first hard freeze in October. And yes, it can snow. If you’re new to the area I’m sure you’ve heard about the Halloween blizzard of 1991. It was something. It started snowing on our trick-or-treaters, and we went on to set the record for most snow in a 24-hour period with 21 inches. We went on to set the single storm record with 28.4 inches from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. I love hearing the stories of what people were doing the day Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick and left that snowy treat.

The monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center calls for a somewhat mild October with above-average precipitation. We’ve come out of the gate strong in that category. Things do quiet down quite a bit in the next few weeks.

I look forward to the sunny days so you can capture some great family photographs with our outstanding fall colors. I know our WCCO viewers picked the North Shore for the best fall color viewing. Red Wing also scored well with viewers, but I love the colorful collage in the St. Croix Valley. Expect some crowds along the river to snap up some of the beauty. I always smile when I see a Christmas card that shows a family around/in a large pile of leaves.

You can also soak in some great festivities this month. And we’ve got some fun things this weekend starting in Afton. They are doing a Snowflake Fun Run 5K at Afton Alps tomorrow. Don’t panic … we aren’t getting any snow. And of course their big Fall Fair & Ski Swap is under way. That will run through next weekend.

The big Rivertown Fall Art Festival is also happening tomorrow and Sunday downtown Stillwater. This is the fun one with beautiful artwork, jewelry, paintings, photographs and more.

Next weekend is all about the pumpkins downtown. It’s Harvest Fest with the famous pumpkin drop and the pumpkin regatta. I love grabbing a big bowl of chili and soaking in the orange fun.

By the time Halloween arrives the average high will be down to 51 degrees, and the sun will set by 6:02 p.m. Sip your pumpkin spice coffee and get ready for that doorbell to ring. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, those little costumed kiddos will be holding up that pillowcase before it gets dark. And I will have already consumed four or five little candy bars. My wife hates when I do that!

Stillwater native Chris Shaffer is WCCO’s chief meteorologist.