According to Cornell University: “While the severity of … extreme snowfalls is likely to increase, the number of days per year with snow on the ground is likely to decrease.”
Climate science is complex, making it difficult to predict the precise impacts that the warming climate will have on weather in any given region. One thing scientists seem to agree on across the board, however, is that the intensity of storms - from hurricanes to blizzards - is increasing.
A greater percentage of total precipitation is falling in the heaviest storms each year.
This means that the biggest storms are becoming more intense and more frequent. Any skier could easily provide anecdotal evidence for this trend - whether is be the 4 feet of snow just received by areas of the Northeast last weekend, or the storm earlier this season that closed all Wyoming roads and forced Jackson Hole to shut down for almost a week.
Big storms are costing communities money in lost business, as well as plowing and repair costs.
These storms are also leading to injuries and even deaths. According the National Centers for Environmental Information, a storm and associated cold-front that hit the East Coast in early February, 2015 had an estimated total cost of $3.1 billion and contributed to 30 deaths across 19 states! This is just one of three winter storms in their database with an associated cost of $1.9 billion or more since 2010.
While Storm Intensity increases, total snowpack is decreasing.
Total inches of precipitation are decreasing in areas, and the snow that does fall is melting much faster. Despite the trend of increasingly intense storms, scientists across the board have pessimistic predictions for future ski seasons. Snowfall is predicted to decrease by as much as 70% in the Alps by 2100, and North American skiers are seeing spring come earlier and earlier each year.
More storms but less snow means shorter seasons for skiers, and expensive and unpredictable winters for local governments and ski resorts.
Help us fight back and protect the future of skiing and snowboarding. Take the Snowriders’ Pledge today!