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McHenry County hits record for early snowfall, meteorologist says

County faced an unusual snow, bitter temps: NWS

Pine trees were covered with snow in Crystal Lake.
Pine trees were covered with snow in Crystal Lake.

Winter is coming.

McHenry County hit a 52-year record for early November snow this week.

Randy Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, said the last time northern Illinois was hit with more than an inch of snow this early was in October 1989.

“To get that much snow this early, it’s pretty rare,” Castro said. “It’s not unheard of, but that last time it has snowed an inch-plus in a calendar day at O’Hare was on Oct. 19, 1989.”

Castro said snow totals in O’Hare mirror what falls in McHenry County. He provided the following snow totals from Friday morning: 1.5 inches in Harvard; 1.3 inches in McHenry; 1.2 inches in Crystal Lake; and 1.2 inches in Woodstock.

Most of the snow fell late Thursday and early Friday morning.

The last time more than an inch of snow fell in early November was in 1966, Castro said, adding that 1.5 inches fell on Nov. 2, 1966.

Castro credited an unusual amount of precipitation combined with a cold front for the significant snowfall.

“It was just the way the pattern set up,” he said. “We had just the right timing of cold enough air for snow and a precipitation-producing weather system come together to produce this event. Things were timed perfectly. This early in the season, it comes down to timing.”

It’s also been unusually chilly.

The record low for early November was 14 degrees in 1991. On Friday, temps hovered around 30 degrees, he said.

“The normal highs are 50s,” Castro said. “It certainly is not typical.”

Castro said Saturday's highs will be in the low 30s.

“It’s really cold for this time of year,” he said. “We’re not going to have a record for temperatures, though.”

The record low maximum for Nov. 9, the lowest high temperature observed, was 31 degrees in 1957.

“Having this cold of an air mass is unusual, but it’s not like it hasn’t happened at all. It’s just unusual having it be paired with snow,” Castro said. “It’s not common to get accumulating snow.”

Castro said temps will rise late next week. “We have another shot of cold air coming up Monday and Tuesday,” he said. “It will be very cold. Tuesday could have highs below 30, which is really rare.”

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