Yes, shocking, we know. A report and comparative maps from this season and last confirm the obvious.
It’s official: This winter was a bad snow year. Not that we really needed NASA to tell us this, but alas, a report comparing last year’s plentiful powder with this winter’s sad snowfall amounts blames the mild winter on a La Niña pattern that pushed the precipitation northward. That was compounded by something called an Arctic Oscillation, a strong one in this case, that kept all that cold air circling the North Pole rather than drifting down to more southerly latitudes.
Winter storm warnings can be a happy sign your ski vacation is going to be a good one. But they can also mean a delay -- or, at worst, the end -- of a long-planned and long-anticipated trip to the hills. And now things are getting worse. As the rough economy has shrunk demand for travel, airlines have shrunk their capacity for travelers. And as that capacity has shrunk, the New York Times reports, the airlines' ability to accommodate weather-stranded travelers has also receded.
We don't want to jinx anything, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the guys and gals who watch the weather for the government) tells us the climate is in an El Niño pattern at the moment -- and will be through the upcoming winter. Typically, El Niño years mean big snowfall for the Sierras (Northern California and Nevada), the Rockies (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona), and the northern and southern tips of the Appalachians.