For many of us, snow on Halloween would be an unusual sight. And for the hundreds of thousands of kids and parents set to prowl their neighborhoods on October 31, weather that's below freezing would make the task a lot less enjoyable (though the cold weather may help your pumpkin last longer!). You should have a pretty good sense of your area's snow probabilities based on previous years' weather — but Mother Nature is full of surprises, and you could be in for a White Halloween when you least expect it.
Can I expect snow on Halloween this year?
While we're a bit too far out to make accurate predictions about the weather on Halloween in specific cities, snow probability is low for most of us. There's less than a three percent chance of snow in October in large portions of the lower 48 states, Alaskan climatologist Brian Brettschneider said in 2017 (his predictions are all-time probability, meaning they'll be pretty accurate this year as well). Brettschneider's criteria is a depth of at least one inch of measurable snow on October 31.
The areas where the likelihood of snow is a little bit higher are what you might expect: along the Rocky Mountains, portions of the Mountain West, and northern regions of the Great Plains. Breckenridge, Colorado, which sits about 9,600 feet above sea level, has the highest chance of snow each year at 41 percent, according to Brettschneider. But if you live near that city, don't automatically assume that you'll have snow, too. In Denver, which is about an hour and a half away, there's only about an 18 percent chance of snow.
The upper Midwest and Northeast, namely sections of the Great Lakes regions and New York's Adirondacks and Catskills, have about a 10 percent chance of snow. Marquette, Michigan, and Old Forge, New York, have a roughly 11 percent likelihood of a White Halloween. In Caribou, Maine, a town just minutes from the Canadian border, there's a 10 percent chance of snow.
Outside of the contiguous United States, Alaska has the highest chance of snow on Halloween — surprise, surprise. The likelihood of snow is as high as 60 percent in some areas of the state.
If you're determined to trick-or-treat in warm weather and avoid the snow, Halloween festivities in South Florida might be more your cup of tea. Snow on Halloween (let alone any measurable amount of snow during the rest of the year) is relatively unheard of in large chunks of the southern United States.
But a Halloween snowstorm isn't impossible!
In 2011, a Halloween blizzard whirled through sections of the Northeast, depositing at least 30 inches of snow in parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Who knew the biggest Halloween mess to clean would be snow and not dried chocolate stains?) Though the storm lasted only from October 29 to October 30, the snow lingered at least through Halloween. The event, which became known as "Snowtober," left three million without power and contributed to 39 direct and indirect deaths, according to NOAA.
As we get closer to Halloween, meteorologists will have a better sense of whether you'll need a pair of snow boots under your costume. Until then, it's never a bad idea to prepare for the worst. And let's say your weatherman is predicting snow in your area — what happens on Halloween then? Well, if you buy a snowflake Halloween costume, you'll fit right in!
The worst-case scenario this year is that there'll be snow on Halloween — but that doesn't have to put a damper on your Hallowen festivities. There are tons of fun indoor Halloween party games even your tweens who are "too cool" to care about anything will enjoy. And that allergy-free Halloween candy you were saving for the neighborhood kids — well, it's all yours now!