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Unread 10-04-2007, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
3,059 posts, read 7,528,990 times
Reputation: 1584
Default BIG Myth: My Area Doesn't Get Snow Like We Used To

OK, it seems everyone in their mother now notes that almost every city they live in across the lower 48 (and perhaps Alaska too), that, well, "my city / area(whether it be Milwaukee, Chicago, Salt Lake, Denver, Louisville, etc., etc., etc.)...doesn't get nearly the snowfall in the winter that it used to get." "Winters are so much more mild now that it just doesn't snow as much as it used to."

You hear this EVERYWHERE. About every seeming concievable area that snowfall occurs. On this forums all the time, but out in about all of the time too.

And my response: (Sorry for the candidness) - BULL.

I have yet...and I mean yet...once/ever...heard these claims backed up with any kind of statistic/fact, etc. I have not seen any credible facts ever that back up an area consistently (oh, say for the past 15 years) having a noticable fall off on snowfall averages or amounts in comparison to a similar chunk of time back.

My guess is that people always seem to remember extremes quite a bit more, and this is almost a form of the ol' "when I was your age, I used to walk 10 miles through 3 feet of snow up hill to school" syndrome. Also, I think snow removal equipment is better and more efficient now, making driving less of a headache (or noticable) in snowfall, and I think vehicles - which are used more than ever to travel even very small distances - are better than ever at navigating snow.

I just don't see any data/statistics/proof that it "snows less than it used to" in any area of this nation. I think it is just fuzzy memories at work.

Thus...if you disagree with me...and actually have stats/proof that your area snows less now "than it used to"...I would like you to post it here.

For example, if your area is, oh, say, Billings Montana, and you think "Billings just doesn't get the snow it used to", I would like to see snowfall totals per year from say 1950 until 2006 and see the noticable decline. Or something like that. I just don't think folks can produce it because I think - again - this just isn't true.

I know here in Milwaukee, an area that can sure get its snow, I hear it all of the time "we just don't get snow like we used to." Funny, as the city averages about 45-50 inches of snow, and just this past winter, it snowed over 60 inches! All everyone can remember here is a few relatively mild weeks that happened in late December, but they forget about the 10 inches that fell in early December, and the 8 inches that fell around Easter in mid-April!!! They also forget the winter of 2000 (that I surely don't forget) where a whopping 45 inches of snow fell - just in December - for the snowiest December in the history of Milwaukee. Fuzzy memories.

So folks, for those of you whose area "just doesn't get the same amount of snow anymore"...let's see some stats.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth/Dallas
11,886 posts, read 23,587,496 times
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You bring up an interesting point. I know for a fact that my part of Oklahoma doesn't get the snowfall that I had when I was a child. I remember it snowing every single Winter; sometimes quite deep. It rarely ever gets that much snow these days. But, you do bring up an interesting point. I will try and get back with you on statistics from NOAA. I like the whole topic though.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
3,059 posts, read 7,528,990 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synopsis View Post
You bring up an interesting point. I know for a fact that my part of Oklahoma doesn't get the snowfall that I had when I was a child. I remember it snowing every single Winter; sometimes quite deep. It rarely ever gets that much snow these days. But, you do bring up an interesting point. I will try and get back with you on statistics from NOAA. I like the whole topic though.
OK Synopsis - your response is exactly the type response that I was referencing! I just am highly skeptical that your area gets less snowfall now than it did when you were a child. Sure, some winters less, some more, that's how it works. But then again, you may be right...may I ask what city you reside in? Then we can look at the stats. And see.

I really think that when we are kids things look so much bigger to us, and snow is a big one.

In Milwaukee here, I hear people say this stuff all the time - "back then, we got so much more snow"...but if you look at the history, the facts just don't bear that out. Some winters are less snowy, some are more - that is how they've always been here though, at least since stats have been recorded.

But if you can produce some stats that show a large, significant trend, I will eat my words!
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Unread 10-04-2007, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Perth, Western Australia
9,597 posts, read 13,970,370 times
Reputation: 3190
Some of those people could be remembering deep snow from when they were kids.

Up until I was 6, snow almost up to my waist was common...
But when you're only 3 feet tall, it's easy for 10-15 inches of snow to feel that way.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
3,059 posts, read 7,528,990 times
Reputation: 1584
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdCanadian View Post
Some of those people could be remembering deep snow from when they were kids.

Up until I was 6, snow almost up to my waist was common...
But when you're only 3 feet tall, it's easy for 10-15 inches of snow to feel that way.
Yep. I think, seriously, that is probably a part of it (among many other factors).
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Unread 10-04-2007, 04:20 PM
 
Location: 602/520
2,441 posts, read 3,567,691 times
Reputation: 1815
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnjoyEP View Post
OK, it seems everyone in their mother now notes that almost every city they live in across the lower 48 (and perhaps Alaska too), that, well, "my city / area(whether it be Milwaukee, Chicago, Salt Lake, Denver, Louisville, etc., etc., etc.)...doesn't get nearly the snowfall in the winter that it used to get." "Winters are so much more mild now that it just doesn't snow as much as it used to."

You hear this EVERYWHERE. About every seeming concievable area that snowfall occurs. On this forums all the time, but out in about all of the time too.

And my response: (Sorry for the candidness) - BULL.

I have yet...and I mean yet...once/ever...heard these claims backed up with any kind of statistic/fact, etc. I have not seen any credible facts ever that back up an area consistently (oh, say for the past 15 years) having a noticable fall off on snowfall averages or amounts in comparison to a similar chunk of time back.

My guess is that people always seem to remember extremes quite a bit more, and this is almost a form of the ol' "when I was your age, I used to walk 10 miles through 3 feet of snow up hill to school" syndrome. Also, I think snow removal equipment is better and more efficient now, making driving less of a headache (or noticable) in snowfall, and I think vehicles - which are used more than ever to travel even very small distances - are better than ever at navigating snow.

I just don't see any data/statistics/proof that it "snows less than it used to" in any area of this nation. I think it is just fuzzy memories at work.

Thus...if you disagree with me...and actually have stats/proof that your area snows less now "than it used to"...I would like you to post it here.

For example, if your area is, oh, say, Billings Montana, and you think "Billings just doesn't get the snow it used to", I would like to see snowfall totals per year from say 1950 until 2006 and see the noticable decline. Or something like that. I just don't think folks can produce it because I think - again - this just isn't true.

I know here in Milwaukee, an area that can sure get its snow, I hear it all of the time "we just don't get snow like we used to." Funny, as the city averages about 45-50 inches of snow, and just this past winter, it snowed over 60 inches! All everyone can remember here is a few relatively mild weeks that happened in late December, but they forget about the 10 inches that fell in early December, and the 8 inches that fell around Easter in mid-April!!! They also forget the winter of 2000 (that I surely don't forget) where a whopping 45 inches of snow fell - just in December - for the snowiest December in the history of Milwaukee. Fuzzy memories.

So folks, for those of you whose area "just doesn't get the same amount of snow anymore"...let's see some stats.
I definitely agree with you. People act like the weather has changed drastically over time. With the exception of a few places (Phoenix, Las Vegas) that's just not the case. Just a few years back in Buffalo they received about 7 feet of snow in the course of a week. There were some areas downwind of Lake Ontario north of Syracuse that got 8.5 FEET of snow in during the month of February.

Just this past Chirstmas, or the one before (I can't remember), Brownsville, TX saw it's first snow in more than 110 years. Tucson had a freak snow event back in January, and areas on the Central Florida coast saw flurries just a few years ago.

There are usually on and off years with snowfall. There is little to no evidence that annual snowfall is rapidly decreasing anywhere. I hope this year brings an extreme amount of snow to the people who say that it doesn't snow like it used to.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 06:50 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
13,496 posts, read 23,438,505 times
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Enjoy, good post. I have to agree with you totally. My area still gets PLENTY of snow. My average is 31 inches per year, but the past three years it has been less. BUT we have to keep in mind that those 31 inches include winters like 1996-1997 or 1962 or 1968-69. We may be a bit below our average, but it hasn't been anything record breaking.

The same actually applies to temps. My area was 15-20 degrees below average for nearly a week, but the weather channel barely brought that out. Now it's above normal and they seem to accentuate that. But in reality, I check "yesterday's temps" and also check the record high and we aren't even coming close to some of the records even though we're warmer then average.

It will be very interesting to see how other people's areas compare statistically.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Bourbonnais, IL
1,353 posts, read 2,603,891 times
Reputation: 695
I think the thing that is sticking with people more is the fact that generally speaking winter's are milder and there are more warm ups and they last longer than before, etc, etc. Yet, and you're right about this, a place like Wisconsin can see snow October - April and come the summertime everyone forgot about those early and late season snows which actually put them near average. They only remember how mild the "dead" of winter was.
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Unread 10-04-2007, 07:18 PM
 
Location: Burlington VT
1,405 posts, read 3,068,313 times
Reputation: 517
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdCanadian View Post
Some of those people could be remembering deep snow from when they were kids.

Up until I was 6, snow almost up to my waist was common...
But when you're only 3 feet tall, it's easy for 10-15 inches of snow to feel that way.
Yeah - We were shorter, so the snowbanks were huge!

Actually, the darned polar ice caps are melting, so why wouldn't it also be the case that it snows less? I know global warming is supposed to happen in geological time, not observable human lifespan...but still...

When I was a kid we didn't have snowmaking. We had skiing from Thanksgiving to Easter. Now it rains on Christmas Vacation and every single area still in operation has snowmaking...

Interesting topic. I think you're wrong, but I have no proof either
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Unread 10-04-2007, 07:45 PM
 
5,013 posts, read 7,882,738 times
Reputation: 3298
Something else about the way you remember things: The big events really stand out. In fact, the anomalies stand out. The very fact that it was rare to get a big storm in late Nov. or early Dec. means that when it did happen, it made an impression, so now you recall how you used to get the first big storm earlier than you do now, and you forget that what you're remembering was the exception.

I grew up in the Boston area, and live there now. If I really think about it, in addition to remembering the big storm on Thanksgiving, and the time school let out early because of heavy snow early in Dec., I can also recall a year when one of the television weathermen made the observation as Christmas was approaching that, despite all the white Christmas talk, the reality was that in Boston there was no snow on the ground the majority of Christmases. I began to pay attention over the next few years, and realized that usually it was not until near the end of Dec., or in early Jan. that the snow really started accumulating to a depth where it would stay on the ground most of the rest of winter. And, that's about what it's like now. So, if I'm careful not to let my picture about "how much it used to snow" get swayed by memories of the few exceptional times when we had a big storm early in the season, I realize that snowfall now is about the same as it was when I used to trudge twenty miles uphill on the way to school--and then uphill again on the way home . . . in blazing heat in three feet of snow!
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