The Eric Factor: Trees can tell us when the first snow will fall


Everyone is wondering when we'll see our first snow. It's not unheard of to get a slushy, whitening of the ground this time of year but it's a very rare event this early.

The photo above shows us what it looked like up in far northern Wisconsin over the weekend. This was shared by my good friend Steve Brown.

But where I was in Lake Geneva (the southern part of the state), it looked very different. Most of the natural oak trees in Southern Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, and Eastern Iowa still have plenty of leaves on them. And in the Lake Geneva area, many were still green! Typically, no snow will accumulate until the leaves fall from the trees.  It's Mother Nature's little signal about when we should expect the first snow of the season. If snow did fall right now, lots of limbs would crack and break off causing damage or death to many mature trees. Once a majority of the leaves fall from the limbs, they are able to hold the weight of the snow.

In Northern Wisconsin, many of the trees are not deciduous like they are here. Pines and evergreens have very strong limbs that can carry the weight of the snow.

Over the next few weeks, as more leaves fall, our snow chances will increase. Typically, our first inch of snow occurs around Thanksgiving.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen