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The Ghost of Climate Future Is Turning Our "White Christmas" Into a Myth

Hope everyone likes their winters warm and slushy, because in about 50 years, the entire eastern seaboard is going to be covered in the world's worst weather phenomenon: wintery mix.

by Brian Merchant
Dec 12 2012, 5:57pm

Hope everyone likes their winters warm and slushy, because in about 50 years, the entire eastern seaboard is going to be covered in the world's worst weather phenomenon: wintery mix.

Well, kind of–it's definitely going to be hotter and wetter, with less snowfall sticking. See, climatologists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst just completed the first high-resolution climate model of the northeast U.S, from Pennsylvania to Maine. They found that the region is going to be 2-3˚ Celsius warmer by 2050, and during winters, it's liable to spike to 3.5˚ C warmer on average.

Meanwhile, precipitation will be up too. But since temps will be warmer, it looks like there's going to be a lot less snow, and a lot more rain.

From the UMASS report:

Winter precipitation is projected to rise significantly above natural weather variability, around 12 to 15 percent greater from southwest Pennsylvania to northern Maine, with the exception of coastal areas, where projected increases are lower.

"We're losing the snow season," Michael Rawlins, of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst, says of the findings. "It is contracting, with more rain in early and late winter."

For East Coast urban dwellers, that means fewer snow days, fewer snow-covered parks, and more days sliding around on brown slush sidewalks and slippery subway stairwells and cursing under your breath on the way to work.

And as the snow dies out across the region, so do the winter sports. Adios, downhill skiing. And hello, wintery mix.

As for losing your "White Christmas": just remember that, with enough caffeine, you can always hallucinate it.

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