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

Written by August Croft
Published: November 25, 2022
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Knowing the geography of the United States will definitely give you some keys as to when the first snow in Nebraska hits. While Nebraska is surrounded by other states and completely landlocked, it has a lot to offer in terms of its winter weather and natural beauty. But when does snow usually fall in Nebraska and what can you expect from an average winter there?

Whether you plan on visiting Nebraska this winter or simply want to know more about its average weather, here’s everything you should know about snowfall in Nebraska, both the minute and the bountiful! 

Understanding First Snow in Nebraska

first snow in nebraska
Depending on where you are in Nebraska, the snow can be extreme.

©melissamn/Shutterstock.com

Nebraska Facts
Earliest First SnowfallSeptember 29th
Latest First SnowfallDecember 31st
Average Temperature11-40 degrees Fahrenheit
Largest Average Snowfall30 inches overnight
Smallest Average SnowfallLess than 4 inches all season long
Places to Enjoy the SnowLincoln, Omaha, and just beyond the state!

Understanding the geography of Nebraska is key to knowing about its average snowfall. Bordered by South Dakota to the north, Iowa to the east, and Colorado to the southwest, Nebraska has its fair share of snowy destinations, just nearby. However, the majority of Nebraska experiences far warmer temperatures than you might expect, given the fact that the state is split between a semi-arid climate and a more humid one.

For example, the locations nearest Colorado experience far more snowfall and colder temperatures compared to the southernmost and easternmost locations of the state, given their elevation and climate differences. However, the state is primarily comprised of plains and rolling hills, making it unlikely for the experienced skier to visit. 

But how much snowfall does Nebraska experience on average, especially compared to these other iconic, snowy States?

Earliest and Latest Snowfalls in Nebraska

It’s difficult to determine averages for the state of Nebraska, given just how different it is structured. However, there is one record snowfall that happened as early as September 29th in the year 1985. This is largely considered the earliest first snow in Nebraska’s history, given that the average first snow occurs sometime during the first half of November! 

When it comes to the latest first snowfall in Nebraska’s history, records suggest that December 31st, 2006 is the latest possible date for snow. Both of these dates are specifically for Lincoln, Nebraska in particular, so this is one of the snowier regions in the entire state. Again, the average time of year for snow to begin in Nebraska is anywhere in November, making New Year’s Eve an especially late date! 

Largest and Smallest Snowfalls in Nebraska

first snow in nebraska
In February of 1965, Omaha, Nebraska experienced nearly 19 inches of snow overnight, with over 30 inches of snow discovered in higher elevation areas.

©Gary C. Tognoni/Shutterstock.com

Determining average snowfall amounts for the state of Nebraska can be difficult, given the fact that the state’s experience is very different microclimates. However, there are plenty of records surrounding blizzards and high amounts of snowfall, particularly in the southwesternmost portion of the state. 

When it comes to single-day snow falls, there was one particular storm in 1965 that had plenty to say. In February of 1965, Omaha, Nebraska experienced nearly 19 inches of snow overnight, with over 30 inches of snow discovered in higher elevation areas. This is a particularly devastating amount of snow for Nebraska, especially back in the year 1965! And this number is even more impressive when you consider the fact that many locations in Nebraska experience an average of 20 to 40 inches of snow for an entire season. 

However, only a few years prior to 1965, Nebraska experienced its smallest snowfall on record. For an entire season in 1960 to 1961, Nebraska only received a scant 3 inches of snow in Lincoln, making this one of the smallest snowfall seasons in history. However, the 2021 winter season was also a small one, clocking in at roughly four inches for the entire year. 

Winter Temperatures in Nebraska

first snow in nebraska
For an entire season in 1960 to 1961, Nebraska only received a scant 3 inches of snow in Lincoln.

©Nicholas Stankus/Shutterstock.com

Just because it doesn’t snow everywhere doesn’t mean it isn’t cold in Nebraska. Depending on the region that you are in, winter temperatures can vary vastly across the state. Here are the average winter temperatures in Nebraska, depending on the region you happen to be visiting. 

Western Nebraska

With decent elevation and a semi-arid climate, western Nebraska experiences wide differences in its daily and seasonal temperatures alike. On average, western Nebraska experiences the most snowfall in the coldest winters, ranging anywhere from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to an average low of 15 Fahrenheit. 

Central Nebraska

Even though central Nebraska has slightly lower elevation gains compared to Western Nebraska, it still experiences frigid winters. For example, central Nebraska average has anywhere from 30 degrees Fahrenheit to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the season and the specific location you are interested in visiting. 

Eastern Nebraska

With Omaha ranking as the fifth coldest major city in the United States, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that eastern Nebraska is almost as cold as the rest of the state during the wintertime! Depending on where you are, Eastern Nebraska varies in temperature from 12 degrees Fahrenheit to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, with extremes happening in either direction depending on the season. 

Winter Wildlife in Nebraska

first snow in nebraska
Even though central Nebraska has slightly lower elevation gains compared to Western Nebraska, it still experiences frigid winters.

©Trace Hudson/Shutterstock.com

Nebraska is full of wetlands and plains, giving you plenty of opportunities to see an abundance of wildlife, no matter the season. Winter is a wonderful time for viewing the following animals across the state: 

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The Featured Image

cows in snow field in nebraska
Depending on where you are in Nebraska, the snow can be extreme.
© melissamn/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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Sources
  1. Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Viewing, Available here: http://outdoornebraska.gov/wildlifeviewing/