Even though climate change is expected to reduce the total amount of U.S. snowfall this century, it’s unlikely to significantly rein in the most powerful nor’easters that pummel the East Coast, new research indicates.
The study finds that smaller snowstorms that drop a few inches will diminish greatly in number by late century. But the most damaging types of storms along the Eastern Seaboard, which strike every few years or so and cause widespread disruption, will remain about as frequent in a warming world.
“What this research finds is almost all of the decrease in snow occurs in weaker, more nuisance-type events,” said atmospheric scientist Colin Zarzycki, the author of the study. “The really crippling storms that have major regional impacts on transportation, on the economy, on infrastructure are not significantly mitigated in a warming climate.”
“The big nor’easters are not just going to go away.”
Zarzycki conducted the research as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He is now a professor at Pennsylvania State University in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science.