Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Climate scientists struggling to reconcile model predictions of the end of snow with the observed abundance of white stuff have come up with a way to predict more and less snow at the same time.
With climate change, Washington may have entered era of more blockbuster snowstorms but less snow overall
By Andrew Freedman
A largely deserted Connecticut Avenue around Dupont Circle during the beginning of the Snowzilla storm on Jan. 22, 2016, in Washington. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post/For The Washington Post)By Andrew FreedmanNovember 26
As Washington’s winter climate has warmed several degrees over the past 120 years, average snowfall has declined by about half a foot, from roughly 21 inches to 15 inches. Yet recent decades have also featured several of the biggest snowstorms the city has ever recorded.
Snowfall trends in Washington, as well as other East Coast cities, are leading scientists to this conclusion: Global warming, while eating away at some snow events, may paradoxically be contributing to an uptick in big East Coast snowstorms.
Judah Cohen, a meteorologist at AER, a Verisk Analytics company, has published multiple studies that link changing snowfall trends in the eastern United States to change in the Arctic. His research shows that the loss of Arctic sea ice is contributing to an increase in fall snowfall in parts of Siberia. This is, in turn, having an influence on weather across the Arctic, extending high into the atmosphere above the vast region, favoring weather patterns that tend to direct Arctic air into the Lower 48 states.
“Arctic change favors more disruptions of the polar vortex,” Cohen said, noting that he is somewhat lonely in that view. He sees polar vortex splits as a prerequisite to blockbuster East Coast snowstorms.
Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/11/26/with-climate-change-washington-may-have-entered-era-more-blockbuster-snowstorms-less-snow-overall/
Let’s hope global warming is halted in time to prevent the East Coast from being buried under a permanent snowpack.
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