The cold snap of Oct. 17-26 featured three measurable snows, four nights colder than 20 degrees and a streak of seven consecutive days below freezing in Fargo-Moorhead. For Grand Forks, the snow was not as deep and melted sooner, but the weather remained undeniably chilly for October. Fortunately, there is nothing in the annals of Northern Plains weather that connects an early snow, an early cold snap or even a relatively long period of wintry October weather to a hard winter. There is nothing in the annals separating the two, either.

The present outlook for winter suggests a slight statistical lean toward the likelihood of it being colder and snowier than average, but that sort of long-range forecasting is always low-confidence stuff. Future unknowns will have way more impact on this winter than the past two weeks have had. The one thing the past two weeks have done was to effectively shorten what had been a pleasant fall season.

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