Wrong, Des Moines Register, Fewer Blizzards Would Be a Benefit of Climate Change

An article in the Des Moines Register (DMR) titled Are you tired of yearly blizzards? Well, Iowa could see fewer blizzards in the years ahead, reports on a study from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln predicting that the Midwest, including Iowa, will likely see a declining number of blizzards due to climate change. While this result is uncertain, if true, the DMR should be reporting it as a benefit of climate change because blizzards cause millions of dollars in damage and hundreds of deaths every year.

The study used computer models projections to estimate a decline in blizzards, yet as Climate Realism has discussed numerous times in the past, the models themselves are unreliable, and thus of questionable utility for this purpose. Even the author Liang Chen admitted as much.

“[T]here is no study looking at how they [blizzards] will change in the future, based on climate simulations,” Chen told DMR. “The major reason is: It’s hard to quantify.”

Also the data that do exist provide no evidence for a declining trend in blizzards, despite modest warming. According to the study:

In this study, we analyzed historical blizzard occurrences using the observed storm event database, which shows that the Northern Plains, such as North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, had the most blizzard activities over the past 25 years. No significant trend in blizzard occurrence is found in those regions.

The DMR ignores the fact that were the prediction of fewer blizzards and a decline in extreme cold storms to prove true, this would be a benefit, rather than something to be bemoaned. More than 400 people die during blizzards in the United States, alone, each year. Also, as Climate Realism has pointed out repeatedly, here, here, and here, for example, cold weather kills far more people each year than hot weather. As the climate has modestly warmed, the number of deaths attributed to non-optimum temperatures has fallen dramatically.

Regardless, trying to tease a future trend in blizzards out of climate computer models for a relatively small geographic region, much less for the particular state of Iowa,  is fraught with uncertainty, often no better than a coin flip. The world has been naturally and gently warming since the end of the little Ice Age in 1850. During that time no trend in blizzards was reported in the historical data. If a trend in blizzards for the Midwest did not emerge with over 150 years of warming, it is also unlikely to emerge in the future.

It seems that this is just another example of the media blindly reporting on climate science without fully understanding the uncertainties and full implications of the research they are writing about.

Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website wattsupwiththat.com.

Related Articles


  1. What a waste of time when the forecast of storms is so uncertain that a study predicts the frequency of blizzards in the future to be lessened! No basis, just wildly exaggerated estimates that serve no good purpose! They must not have enough to do that they make
    these claims and then say it’s all because of
    Climate Change! Another climate hoax report that will be tossed in the circular file!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Reads

Latest Publication