First Snow in Delaware: The Earliest & Latest First Snows on Record

Written by Eliana Riley
Updated: January 24, 2023
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Snowfall in Delaware comes in all shapes and sizes across several cities. Average snowfall in Delaware measures between approximately 10 and 20 inches. While temperatures in Delaware aren’t unbearable, winters remain cold and with them come the possibility of snowstorms and heavy snowfall.

Understanding Snowfall in Delaware

Winters in Delaware are cold, but they are not as lengthy as those experienced by neighboring northeastern states. Snowfall in Delaware varies according to the region and is influenced by several factors. For instance, wind currents produced by the Jet Stream carry storms that drop precipitation on Delaware and bring temperature changes. Sometimes, the Jet Steam will experience troughs. Troughs are dips in the Jet Steam that help to create storms along the coast. Other factors, like proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and distance from the equator, also influence snowfall and temperatures in Delaware.

Coastal nor’easters are a type of snowstorm native to the northeast coast of the United States characterized by powerful winds and large amounts of precipitation. These storms develop due to a clash between warm coastal air and cool inland air. Coastal nor’easters can bring snow or rain to Delaware. The rain-snow line in Delaware divides warmer southern areas from cooler northern portions, which contain topography characterized by higher elevations. Therefore, while South Delaware might experience rain from a nor’easter, the northern portion of the state can receive inches upon inches of snowfall. Across New England and the northeast coast of the United States, coastal nor’easters have been known to bring on tremendous amounts of snowfall.

Coastal nor’easter
Coastal nor’easters are a type of snowstorm native to the northeast coast of the United States characterized by powerful winds and large amounts of precipitation.

©Scott Heaney/

Temperature in Delaware

In Delaware, temperatures are similar throughout cities within the state. Dover, Delaware experiences highs of 48ºF and lows of 30.75ºF in the winter. By comparison, Wilmington, Delaware has an average winter temperature range between 29.2ºF and 46ºF. Winters in Georgetown, Delaware are relatively warmer with average temperatures starting at 31.9ºF and reaching up to 49.5ºF. Overall, there is not much variation in winter temperature, likely due to the small area of the state, which measures less than 2000 square miles.

In December, average temperatures range from 31ºF to 47ºF. January brings a colder atmosphere with lows of 27ºF and highs of 43ºF. February records average temperatures stretching from 29ºF to 47ºF. Finally, March average temperature calculations report a range between 36ºF and 55ºF.

Earliest First Snow Ever Recorded

The earliest first snowfall in Delaware occurred on October 10, 1979 in Dover. Dover averages annual temperatures between 48ºF and 66ºF. Dover’s average winter temperatures range from 30.75ºF to 48ºF. Average annual snowfall accumulates to 13.2 inches in the city. The average date for a first snowfall in Dover, Delaware is December 27th, just after Christmas.

Latest First Snow Ever Recorded

The latest first snow in Delaware fell on March 9, 1999, in Lewes. Lewes reports average annual temperatures between 50ºF and 67ºF. Winter temperatures in Lewes, Delaware have lows of 36.3ºF and highs of 44.8ºF. Lewes receives the least amount of annual snowfall in Delaware, marked by 10.5 inches. The average date for first snowfall in Lewes is the same date as Dover, Delaware: December 27th.

Description of First Snowfalls in Delaware

Snowfall in Delaware is much like snowfall in the rest of the northeast coast of the United States. Snow can be wet or dry depending on elevation, but most snowfall is heavy and packed down in the northeast. February is the driest month in Delaware as well as the snowiest month. Therefore, snow in February is more likely to fall as fresh powder than wet, packed snow cover. Dover, Delaware averages 13.2 inches of snowfall per season. A close second, Greenwood, Delaware receives 12.8 inches of annual snowfall. The least amount of snowfall accumulates in Lewes, Delaware, measuring 10.5 inches. On the contrary, Wilmington, Delaware receives the most snowfall at 20.2 inches. However, all of Delaware averages fall below snowfall averages in most northeastern states.

February is the driest month in Delaware as well as the snowiest month


Biggest Snowfall in Delaware

On February 5th and 6th of 2010, between 21 and 26 inches of snow fell in various cities in Delaware. This snowfall set the record for the largest single snowfall in Delaware. After a few days, even more snow came roaring in, dumping another five to 10 inches on Delaware, according to location. Approximately 86,000 residents lost power, and other states had to help pitch in resources and workers to fix snowfall damages. The National Guard aided Delaware, too. In the end, the snowstorm left $9 million in damages.

Blizzards in Delaware

Although the snowfall in February 2010 was a blizzard of its own (see above), other treacherous snowstorms have threatened Delaware. Some notable blizzards have even dated back over 100 years!

The Great Blizzard of 1888

Also known as The Great White Hurricane, The Great Blizzard of 1888 covered the Northeast United States in an extreme wave of snowfall. Between March 11th and March 14th, anywhere from 20 to 60 inches of snow fell on various states on the east coast, including Delaware. Over 400 people died within the region, and over 200 ships, some on Delaware’s coast, were damaged by the snowfall.

Christmas Blizzard

On December 25th and 26th of 1909, almost 24 inches of snow fell throughout the Northeast United States. Although the blizzard brought a white Christmas to Delaware residents, it wasn’t exactly the snowfall that they were hoping for. Many people were trapped, unable to go to work, and inflation on food and other goods skyrocketed.

Christmas Blizzard II

Exactly 100 years after the Christmas Blizzard of 1909, another snowstorm attacked Delaware residents. In 2009, over 12 inches of snow fell in Delaware, causing yet another extreme white Christmas. At least this time, the snow wasn’t as abundant as the first Christmas Blizzard, meaning that families could enjoy a Christmas winter wonderland.

The Blizzard of 1996

The Blizzard of 1996 dumped inches upon inches of snow onto Delaware and the Northeast United States. Coastal Delaware was faced with abundant precipitation and flooding rather than snow. Many areas within the state were challenged by the extreme snowfall, with beaches on the coast suffering the most.

The Best Places to Enjoy Snow in Delaware

Many incredible winter activities exist within Delaware, and knowing where to find them is key to a relaxing, successful vacation. Visitors have a plethora of options to choose from, including but not limited to winter hiking, Christmas tree shopping, ice skating, and sledding.

Coleman’s Christmas Tree Farm

Looking for an exquisite Christmas tree to decorate this season? Coleman’s Christmas Tree Farm is the place to find one. This farm is one of the best in the state, with a wide selection of gorgeous trees perfect for bringing holiday cheer to the home.

Holiday Lights Express

Holiday Lights Express is a train located in Wilmington, Delaware that will take a traveler on a stunning journey through the captivating snowy landscape. With lights and a dazzling view, the ride is like a real-life Polar Express!

Brandywine Creek State Park

Brandywine Creek State Park was originally a dairy farm, but the land has been converted into 1,100 acres dedicated to nature, wildlife, and winter fun. Hiking trails are available to visitors who want to observe the snow up close. Kids will love the park’s snowy hills, which are perfect for sledding all day long.

Lewes Winter Wonderfest

Although Lewes, Delaware receives the least amount of snowfall in the state, festivals and events like Lewes Winter Wonderfest enhance the winter season in other ways. At Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes Winter Wonderfest promotes several activities. Visitors and families can see Christmas light shows, go ice skating, or visit the Christmas village.

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About the Author

I'm Ellie, and I am a full-time college student at Miami University. I enjoy writing, copy editing, and being involved in journalism. I write for The Miami Student newspaper as an opinion columnist. My favorite animals are fish, rabbits, and cats.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What months does it snow in Delaware?

Snowfall typically arrives around December and ends in March. In some cases, though, snow has been known to fall as early as October!

How cold can Delaware become in the winter?

Lowest temperature averages in Delaware measure 27ºF in the month of February.

Do snowstorms affect Delaware?

Snowstorms like coastal nor’easters can affect Delaware in the winter and bring large amounts of snowfall. For instance, the Christmas Blizzard of 1909 brought almost two feet of snow to the state.

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