Why Are Southern States Getting More Snow Than Northern States?March 7, 2011 —
I have a friend that lives in Houston, TX, a place that has received lots of snow this winter. She called me the other day and while we were talking she asked me innocently, “If global warming is really going on, why are Southern states getting more snow than Northern states?” I admitted that I had wondered the same thing and wasn’t really sure about the answer, so I decided to look it up and write a blog about it in case anyone else was wondering about it too.
After doing a bit of research on the Internet, I found out that we actually get higher snowfall in warmer years. According to a study by the American Meteorological Society that looked at temperature and precipitation data from 1901-2000, 61-80% of snowstorms occurred in years that were warmer than average. The reason is warmer air temperatures lead to higher evaporation rates, and hot air also holds more moisture. So when temperatures do drop enough for it to snow, there is more moisture to fall as precipitation, and rain and snowstorm events are more erratic and intense. But there’s still bad news for Ithaca and the Finger Lakes Region: areas near lakes are also expected to receive more snow because of decreased winter ice coverage that has resulted in more moisture in the atmosphere. As with anything related to climate change, there is uncertainty in these forecasts, and the Virginia GOP has used the recent snowstorms in ads that criticized Congressmen Rick Boucher and Tom Periello for supporting a carbon cap-and-trade bill. However, scientists have predicted increases in extreme weather events due to climate change for a long time, and it is likely that storms will get even worse later on. Despite all the evidence, however, we all know never to expect the weather in Ithaca to stick to a schedule.
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