Snowpack news: Storm dumps two feet of snow in the San Juans above South Fork

snowpackcolorado02272012

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The heaviest snowfall came in the foothills above South Fork, where a spotter for the National Weather Service reported 24 inches of snow. Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 20 inches of powder from the storm, while 14 inches fell southwest of Creede, according to another weather service spotter.

From the Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain:

Kari Bowen of the National Weather Service in Boulder said Coal Bank Pass already recorded a foot of snow by Tuesday morning. Other parts of central Colorado have gotten a half foot.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.”

The researchers analyzed observational data collected between 1979 and 2010 and found that a decrease in autumn Arctic sea ice of 1 million square kilometers — the size of the surface area of Egypt — corresponded to significantly above-normal winter snow cover in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China.

The analysis revealed two major factors that could be contributing to the unusually large snowfall in recent winters — changes in atmospheric circulation and changes in atmospheric water vapor content — both linked to diminishing Arctic sea ice. Strong warming in the Arctic through the late summer and autumn appears to be enhancing the melting of sea ice.

“We think the recent snowy winters could be caused by the retreating Arctic ice altering atmospheric circulation patterns by weakening westerly winds, increasing the amplitude of the jet stream and increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere,” said Jiping Liu, a senior research scientist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “These pattern changes enhance blocking patterns that favor more frequent movement of cold air masses to middle and lower latitudes, leading to increased heavy snowfall in Europe and the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.”

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