Hurricanes Are The Biggest Factor Behind Regional Increase in Heavy Rain, Snow

Aug 2, 2018

Overview of the causal mechanisms of the increase in extreme precipitation in the Northeast since 1996. Graphic provided by Huanping Huang, Jonathan Winter, and Erich Osterberg.

New England has seen a significant increase in heavy rain and snow events in recent years, storms delivering upwards of two inches of precipitation in a single day.

While human-caused warming is a major contributor to that shift, natural climate trends may be playing a role as well, said Jonathan Winter, a professor of geography at Dartmouth College. 

He recently published research looking at specific weather patterns driving precipitation in the northeast since 1996. 

The biggest factor behind extreme events, he and his team found, has been hurricanes. Warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, combined with warmer atmospheric temperatures, are translating to more intense tropical storms, which can then deliver a punch as they travel north.