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Study Says California’s Massive Snow in 2023 Was a Rare Occurrence

Study Says California’s Massive Snow in 2023 Was a Rare Occurrence
Source: WGN Radio/X

Study Says California’s Massive Snow in 2023 Was a Rare Occurrence

Source: WGN Radio/X

A year ago, California was hit with unprecedented snowfall. This caused mayhem for the people inside. The people outside were also not spared. 

A recent study investigated this extraordinary snowfall. This led to the conclusion that the snowstorm was most likely a one-time event. Additionally, when global temperatures rise, future instances are expected to be more uncommon.

Snowfall in the Golden State

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Last year, the state of California experienced an unusually continuous winter with copious snowstorms. Although this inconvenienced people, it turned out to be a huge benefit amidst dry conditions in the region.

Snowstorms can reach 50 feet during the season in some places. As a result, in regions like the Sierra Nevada, the 2023 season was among the snowiest ever recorded.

Climatic Research

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Recently, research work looked into the “2023 California snow deluge”. It is located in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication. It was prompted due to the warming environment, increased global atmosphere, and the Golden state’s water supply.

The study’s principal author, Adrienne Marshall, advised against depending solely on heavy snowfall seasons to save them periodically. He alluded to the way the snowfall assisted California to escape a severe dryness.

Serious Snowfall

Source: Jared Ray Coleman/Wikimedia

It was titled “California’s 2023 Snow Deluge: Contextualizing an Extreme Snow Year against Future Climate Change”. In it, it noted that it was vital to investigate the subject matter as a result of the need for water resources in regions characterized by mountains. In 2023, precipitation was also recorded in the Sierra Nevada.

The study emphasized how important snow is to the availability of water supplies in highlands. There has been less snowfall as a result of climate change. Large snow years are still mostly unknown despite minimal snow decades having been fully studied. The purpose of the study was to close this knowledge gap.

A Novel Phrase Is Presented

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In order to draw attention to the peculiarity of the snowfall, the research sought to create new terminology.

The phrase “snow deluge” was coined by the study to describe exceptionally high snowfall years. It proved that the California snowstorm of 2023 was roughly a once-in-a-54-year occurrence. At 5% of snow observatories, it was even rarer—a 1-in-320-year event or more.

There will be less snowfall

Source: Don Graham/Wikimedia

Even if the study’s authors are mistaking, regardless of the scale of the previous year’s tempest, the research team disagrees that heavy snowfalls will be less recurrent than the new standard for the state.

While the Colorado Water Institute study concludes that snow torrents are expected. Though not as noticeable as average snow decades, snow torrents are expected in future seasons in the west.

Snow Torrents versus Snow Droughts

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The research compares previous average weather in the state to what is now known as the “snow deluge. Given that snow deluges necessitate the use of equally humid and moist conditions, snow droughts may arise with tropical or arid conditions.

The cool-season temperature and precipitation during California’s 2023 snowstorm were somewhat unusual in comparison to the previous century. That being said, the temperature was extremely anomalous for the recent climatology.

Group Estimations

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Looking ahead, they estimate a 58% reduction in the frequency of extreme happenings like the state’s snowstorm. This is in line with the research team’s conclusions.

However, they are conservative assessments, it only took a small degree of climatic change into account.

The Chilliest Winter in a While

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According to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, who didn’t partake in the research, individuals will recollect last year as one of the chilliest ever because of the consequences of climate change.

He speculated that 2023 could be the chilly and snowiest season he will ever experience in California.

Atmospheric Rivers

Source: NOAASatellites/Wikimedia

Some of this precipitation was attributed to a situation known as atmospheric rivers. This occurs when a large amount of liquid vapor is moved through the atmosphere by places that mimic waterways.

Despite atmospheric rivers being prevalent throughout the state, their frequency was rare. Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, commented that even in a wetter environment, there isn’t enough water. He also mentioned that as the temperature warms, snow will keep on shrinking, making water supply management more difficult.

Water Management Challenges

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Snow accounts for around 30% of California’s total water supply. California obtains the majority of its water from underground reservoirs or imports it.

Due to the current circumstances, a drought-affected reservoir in California is filling up for the first time since the late 1990s.

It is necessary to properly understand water resources.

Source: Imani/Unsplash

Understanding snow dynamics such as this one is crucial, the study noted, particularly as the state adjusts to an abrupt shift marked by harsher temperatures and more destructive wildfires.

The study made clear how variations in snow storms and variations in the average snow season could have an impact on ecosystems and water resources. Thus, in order to properly adapt to climate change, comprehending these shifts is essential.