Is snow coverage increasing or decreasing in North America and Europe? I know there a lot of dire predictions out there concerning the future of our sport, considering global warming models made by scientists.
As it happens, Rutgers University does the definitive data tracking of snow coverage on a monthly basis. Coverage = Extent.
I grabbed the North America minus Greenland numbers (we don't ski much there) and imported Jan/Feb into excel and then created a graph of the Jan/Feb average from 1967, which is the earliest data that is available. (I couldn't add March because the free version of OutWit Hub which I used to grab the number from the web page only allows a limited amount of data imported.)
The trend is up since 1967 - that's the solid black line. The blue line is the Jan/Feb average million sq km for each year. The black squiggly line is the 5 year moving average, which has been on a solid uptrend the past 10 years.
For you euro skiers, here is the same Jan/Feb ave snow extent for EurAsia. I don't know where to get the Europe only data.
In Eurasia the trend is down overall since 1967, but we the trend is up the past 10 years.
In actuality, Dec-Feb Winter temperatures, according to NOAA US ground stations thermometers, are trending down the past 20 years, with the last four winters being below average. Therefore, I don't think the above average US snowfall the last couple years is from increased winter temperatures. Although some people express worry about the future of skiing, the data shows no sign of our sport melting away.
Regarding Our "Winter" States
Let's look a little closer at "our" winter states - of Utah, Colorado and Montana. A few years ago, there was some justifiable worry about skiing, because we had some poor below ave snowfall winters. But during the past 5 yrs, the trend, for whatever reason, has readjusted itself and the past few winters have been colder than average, bringing the Winter temp average into a general downtrend over the past 20 yrs. (although likely statistically insignificant)
Vermont winter temps, according to NOAA are flat but variable the past 20 yrs. What's interesting is that the VT average Dec-Feb temp will on average vary by as much as 6F for 3 months, with a 10F spread between the warmest and the coldest winters. That's an amazing spread averaged out over 3 months.
Snowfall Data on Pennsylvania
This is a chart of NE Penna snowfall, Region 1 (http://climate.met.psu.edu/www_prod/data/state/regional.php#division1) which includes most of the Poconos, where I ski. This snowfall data comes from Penn State which is home to one of the foremost, most respected climate scientists in the world.
PA Region 1 yearly snowfall for the past 40 yrs. The only point I'm trying to make is it doesn't appear to be time to sell your skis yet.
*If you want to look at temp/precip data on any US state, just plug in the state abbrev where the vt is in the link below. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/vt.html