Snowstorms Are Here to Stay

08/28/2014 |

A warmer climate will still produce strong blizzards


One of the possible benefits to climate change may not be much of a benefit after all – the possibility for less extreme winter weather seems reasonable, but a new study from MIT suggests that snowstorms won't be going anywhere. 

Using 20 different climate models simulating both "control" and "warm" climates, the study published in Nature examined average seasonal snowfall and more extreme events under current and future climate conditions. While the research found that under higher warming scenarios there was a significant drop in average snowfall, the heaviest blizzards saw little change in intensity. More dramatic changes were seen in some higher-latitude regions, where extreme events actually dropped 10% more snow even in the "warm" models. 

Even assuming high rates of climate warming, the study found that the temperatures would need to increase around 5 degrees C. to see a change in mean snowfall coincide with a drop in extreme events. 

"Snowfall extremes still occur in the same narrow temperature range with climate change, and so they respond differently to climate change compared to rainfall extremes or average snowfall," says Paul O'Gorman, author of the study. 

Wondering if your building can withstand the coming cold? Take a look at the Winter Preparation Facility Checklist to be sure. 

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