first snowfall toronto

When will Toronto get its first snowfall of the year?

The exact date of Toronto's first snowfall of the year is virtually impossible to predict outside of a few days before the blessed event, but this doesn't mean that we don't have a pretty good idea of when the city is likely to get its first dusting each year. So if you're holding out hope that the snow is still a long time coming, I have bad news for you.

Toronto almost always gets its first snowfall in mid to late November. In fact, November 2009 was the first time in 162 years that the month passed without some recorded snowfall activity. After escaping unscathed for so long, the city was finally blanketed when a decent sized storm rolled through on December 9.

Last year was a bit similar in that we didn't get our first major snowfall until December 28. The difference, however, was that there were flurries on a number of occasions before that. Temperatures dipped below zero overnight between November 22 and 25 last year, which brought a few flakes.

While there tend to be differing opinions on what actually constitutes the first snowfall of the year, most would agree that airborne flurries that melt upon contact with the ground don't cut it. There needs to be at least a small amount of accumulation to categorize frozen precipitation as a legitimate snowfall.

By this definition and my own observational notes, Toronto's first snowfall has come between November 17 and 27 in eight of the last 10 years with 2015 and 2009 being the key exceptions. In a number of these years, there has been recorded snowfall as early as October according to historical weather data, but not of the type that stayed on the ground for more than a brief period.

That's pretty strong odds for our first snowfall to come sometime over the next two weeks. For its part, the long range forecast has nighttime temperatures dipping to the freezing mark on November 20 and 21, though only a 30 per cent chance of precipitation. These predictions are notoriously unreliable, however, so it's worth checking regularly if you're interested in when the snow is coming.

There have already been a few flurries in Toronto this year and areas to the north have seen accumulation, but it remains possible that we could escape November without a noteworthy snow event. History doesn't favour that scenario, though.

Photo by Frank Lemire.


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