California snowpack data debunked: 2023 was no record year.
It was the snowpack reading that spawned a hundred headlines. “California ties 1952 record for all-time Sierra snowpack,” proclaimed KTVU. “California’s snowpack soars to record high after 17 atmospheric rivers,” trumpeted the Washington Post. State officials largely seemed to agree. … But this year wasn’t a record at all. It only appeared that way in large part because of the state’s shifting definition of a “normal” snowpack, which critics say obscures the true impact of climate change. And, in a closer look at the state’s seven decades of snowpack data, 1952 — the year atop the state’s data — wasn’t a record either. That top honor should go to 1983, which cinched first at 231% of normal, a new analysis by the Bay Area News Group found, when “normal” is considered the average dating back to 1950, the start of the state’s recordkeeping.
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