Was The Snow Really Deeper When I Was A Kid?

Snow on sweet gum seed balls, Pittsburgh, 17 December 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

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.

Rain distorts the Cathedral of Learning falconcam, 3 January 2023

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.

DescriptionWhen I Was a KidInchesInchesThe Last 12 Winters
Max Winter TotalWinter 1960-6176.063.4Winter 2013-14
Min Winter TotalWinter 1968-6930.422.4Winter 2019-20
Max Monthly TotalJan 196624.627.5Jan 2021
Min Monthly TotalMar 19611.40.1Mar 2021 (same yr as max)
Snow in May?Up to 3.1 inchesNo 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.

Curious about snowfall in Pittsburgh? Check out the historical data at NWS Pittsburgh and the Rain to Snow Calculator here.

(*) 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)

4 thoughts on “Was The Snow Really Deeper When I Was A Kid?

  1. Your memories of deeper snowfalls when you were a kid also reflects the fact that you WERE a kid. Your smallness made everything seem bigger. Remember how big your childhood bedroom seemed–have you visited it lately?

  2. I remember getting a sled for Christmas as a child in the ‘50’s and using it a lot because we had a lot of snow back then. Today’s children wouldn’t think of asking Santa for a sled. As a senior I appreciate the warmer winter weather that accompanies the gray, rainy days we’ve been having. We’re still getting the precipitation but we don’t have to shovel it or clean it off our cars. In the end, I agree with you that snow was deeper back in your youth.

  3. I questioned myself the snow amounts from when I was a kid (1970s) compared to now. Yes, being little then made snow seem higher. But I remember facts.
    >The neighbor couple could use a snowmobile at least one entire wintertime in the suburban neighborhood backyards. Couldn’t do that recently.
    >I remember regular drifts halfway up our back door. That happens only rarely now.
    >One thing I think makes a difference and makes it seem we had more snow, is that what snow we did get, stayed on the ground longer. And would accumulate more.
    Maybe it stayed colder over more days.
    Being the oldest, I had to walk to the bus stop first and it seemed most Jan and Feb there was some snow and slush on the ground. Now, when we get snow, and even a lot of snow, the temps seem to rise within a couple weeks and it melts. Only to snow again, and melt again. Guess that’s global warming.

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