Guest post by Steven Goddard
Photo above from: NY Daily News: Record Snowfall in New York
Now that we have reached the end of the meteorological winter (December-February,) Rutgers University Global Snow Lab numbers (1967-2010) show that the just completed decade (2001-2010) had the snowiest Northern Hemisphere winters on record. The just completed winter was also the second snowiest on record, exceeded only by 1978. Average winter snow extent during the past decade was greater than 45,500,000 km2, beating out the 1960s by about 70,000 km2, and beating out the 1990s by nearly 1,000,000 km2. The bar chart below shows average winter snow extent for each decade going back to the late 1960s.
Here are a few interesting facts.
- Average winter snow extent has increased since the 1990s, by nearly the area of Texas and California combined.
- Three of the four snowiest winters in the Rutgers record occurred during the last decade – the top four winters are (in order) 1978, 2010, 2008, 2003
- The third week of February, 2010 had the second highest weekly extent (52,170,000 m2) out of the 2,229 week record
The bar graph below shows winter data for each year in the Rutgers database, color coded by decade. The yellow line shows the mean winter snow extent through the period. Note that the past decade only had two winters below 45 million km2. The 1990s had seven winters below the 45 million km2, the 1980s had five winters below 45 million km2, and the 1970s had four winters below 45 million km2. This indicates that the past decade not only had the most snowfall, but it also had the most consistently high snowfall, year over year.
Many regions of the Northern Hemisphere have seen record snowfall this winter, including Washington D.C, Moscow, China, and Korea. Dr. Hansen’s office at Columbia University has seen record snowfall, and Al Gore has ineptly described the record snow :
“Just as it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees, neither should we miss the climate for the snowstorm,”
A decade long record across the entire Northern Hemisphere is not appropriately described as a “snowstorm.”
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