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With Climate Change, More Rain or Snow?

By Climate Central

Given that the long-term trend in early spring snowpack is down, Climate Central recently examined how the type of precipitation is changing during the winter months nationwide. In our new expanded report, “Meltdown,” we have analyzed the role of elevation in the percentage change of winter precipitation falling as rain. The analysis began with over 3,000 Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) stations with available precipitation data. The stations used in the final analysis were selected based on whether or not they receive snow on a regular basis. A full methodology can be found in the report.

Some findings since 1949:

  • Nationwide, elevations up to 5,000 feet had 66 percent of their stations indicate a decrease in the percentage of precipitation falling as snow in the winter.
     
  • In California, 62 percent of the stations are reporting a decrease in the percentage of precipitation falling as snow in the winter. 
     
  • In Arizona, 83 percent of its stations between 2,000 to 5,000 feet show a decrease in the percentage of precipitation falling as snow in the winter. 
     
  • Elevations between 2,000 to 5,000 feet in Washington State had 63 percent of their stations report a decrease in the percentage of precipitation falling as snow in the winter. Below 2,000 feet, that number jumps to 81 percent.

See our interactive and report here.