It’s SNOWING IN NEW YORK CITY! In October! Before Halloween!

Brace yourself, trick-or-treaters because Mother Nature is scheduled to dump as much as 8 inches of snow from Western Virginia to eastern Maine. Snowfall in October is more than unusual; it’s practically unprecedented. Manhattan’s Central Park has received measurable snow before Halloween only three times since 1869, and never more than an inch. If an inch or more does descend from the heavens, however, it would mark the earliest one-inch snowfall in the city’s 140-plus-year recorded weather history—or since the Civil War. The culprit? A nor’easter of mid-winter proportions brewing off the Carolina coast, one that’s set to usher strong, gusty winds while dropping temperatures into the 20s and 30s.

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The heaviest snows are expected to fall between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST on Saturday night, but subzero temps could bring light snow throughout the night. Forecasters at The Weather Channel anticipate parts of Pennsylvania, north New Jersey, upstate New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts to be the hardest hit.

Climatologists have long argued that climate change will result in extreme weather conditions, not just heat waves but also heavy precipitation, storms, and floods. The biggest impact from the coastal storm won’t be snow accumulation, however, but from rain and melted snow freezing on bridges and overpasses.

And if the aftermath of Hurricane Irene wasn’t bad enough for farmers, lows in the 20s are also likely to bring the agricultural growing season to a premature close, according to the Wall Street Journal. Plus, early snowstorms are linked with downed trees and power outages because warmer temperatures create wet snow, which is heavier and aggregates more aggressively than the dry stuff.

Still there is one silver lining… Temperatures should return to the mid-50s by the middle of next week.

+ The Weather Channel

Lead image by mararie