2023 has proven to be a winter of extremes. Southern California received unusual amounts of snow and rain, a late-season Nor’easter hit New England after an unseasonably warm few months, and a Texas ice storm left over 170,000 households in Austin without power.
When it comes to snowfall extremes, data will soon show how this winter compares to the past century. For now, Stacker cited data from NOAA to reveal when Benton County, Oregon had its biggest snowfall up to summer 2021.Benton County, Oregon set its snowfall record 86 years ago. On Jan 31, 1937 the county received 36 inches of snow over 24 hours.
The biggest snowfall recorded nationally took place in Boulder County, Colorado, when 76 inches fell on April 15, 1921. Over the next two days, cumulative three-day snowfall reached 98 inches.
Overall, snowfall in many parts of the U.S. has fallen since observation began in 1930. According to NOAA data, 80% of weather stations have seen a decline in the proportion of precipitation that reaches the atmosphere as snow.
Warming temperatures don’t mean less snow across the board, however. In regions with frequent cold periods, it can even lead to more snowfall. Warm weather causes waterways and the ocean to evaporate more and warmer air contains more of that vapor. Eventually, it’s released either as rain in warmer areas or snow where the temperatures are below freezing.
It’s why global climate models predict a rise in extreme snowfall even as the planet warms.