The first of April is the end of the wet season across the West, the time of year when the region gets most of its precipitation. As such, it is a good time to take inventory of the snowpack in the mountains. The snow readings are important during this time of the year, as several locations depend on the meltwater from that snowpack for drinking water and irrigation through the drier and hotter summer months. It also serves as a long-term measurement, as in a warming world, the spring snowpack will melt more quickly as summer nears.
While the western snowpack levels have improved over last year’s dismally low levels overall, there are still places below average in Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. 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: