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  • Author or Editor: A. R. Robinson x
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Jay Lawrimore
,
Thomas R. Karl
,
Mike Squires
,
David A. Robinson
, and
Kenneth E. Kunkel

Abstract

The 100 most severe snowstorms within each of six climate regions east of the Rocky Mountains were analyzed to understand how the frequency of severe snowstorms is associated with seasonal averages of other variables that may be more readily predicted and projected. In particular, temperature, precipitation, and El Niño/La Niña anomalies from 1901 to 2013 were studied. In the southern United States, anomalously cold seasonal temperatures were found to be more closely linked to severe snowstorm development than in the northern United States. The conditional probability of occurrence of one or more severe snowstorms in seasons that are colder than average is 80% or greater in regions of the southern United States, which was found to be statistically significant, while it is as low as 35% when seasonal temperatures are warmer than average. This compares with unconditional probabilities of 55%–60%. For seasons that are wetter (drier) than average, severe snowstorm frequency is significantly greater (less) in the Northern Plains region. An analysis of the seasonal timing of severe snowstorm occurrence found they are not occurring as late in the season in recent decades in the warmest climate regions when compared to the previous 75 years. Since 1977, the median date of occurrence in the last half of the cold season is six or more days earlier in the Southeast, South, and Ohio Valley regions than earlier in the twentieth century. ENSO conditions also were found to have a strong influence on the occurrence of the top 100 snowstorms in the Northeast and Southeast regions.

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