4 January 2023
Rain. Rain. Rain! For two days it’s been raining in Pittsburgh while the high temperature holds at 61oF. Total rainfall will be 1.4 inches, some of which splashed the Cathedral of Learning falconcam.
If the weather had been below freezing we’d be looking at 14 inches of snow! I’m glad it isn’t snowing but heavy rain in January got me thinking … Wasn’t the snow deeper when I was a kid?
I grew up in Pittsburgh so my memories of winter apply to where I live today, but are my memories distorted? Using Pittsburgh’s historical snowfall data I compared my 12 years of growing up in Pittsburgh(*) to the most recent 12 years.
The answer is mixed. There was more snow in winter when I was a kid (maximum winter total and highest minimum), but both the highest and lowest snowfall per month both occurred in the recent past — in fact in the same winter of 2020-21.
|Description||When I Was a Kid||Inches||Inches||The Last 12 Winters|
|Max Winter Total||Winter 1960-61||76.0||63.4||Winter 2013-14|
|Min Winter Total||Winter 1968-69||30.4||22.4||Winter 2019-20|
|Max Monthly Total||Jan 1966||24.6||27.5||Jan 2021|
|Min Monthly Total||Mar 1961||1.4||0.1||Mar 2021 (same yr as max)|
|Snow in May?||Up to 3.1 inches||No snow sticks in May|
The wild swings in snowfall nowadays mirror the wild swings in temperature.
Remember how bitter cold it was only 11 days ago? Look at the temperature swing then (Christmas Eve 2022) and now (3 January 2023)!
So the answer is Yes & No. Yes, there was more snow in Pittsburgh when I was a kid. But, No, the snow is deeper today on rare occasions.
(*) The span is 12 years because I moved to Pittsburgh when I was 6 years old.
(photo by Kate St. John, maps and data from the National Weather Service)