Forecasters not bullish on big winter
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — This winter’s iffy weather pattern doesn’t hold the promise of significant drought relief, according to the National Weather Service’s Boulder office, which released its winter winter weather outlook this week.
There’s a reasonable expectation that the state will see more storms than last winter, but forecasters don’t expect those storms to be as intense or long-‐lasting as those commonly observed during stronger El Niño or La Niña episodes, as the storm track is expected to be inconsistent in what looks to be either a weak El Niño or even neutral Pacific ocean conditions.
What looked to be at least a moderate El Niño developing in June and July started to fade away again, with quick cooling evident across the equatorial Pacific Ocean — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for western Colorado, which is sometimes left high and dry during El Niños. Some models are now showing an increasing probability of tilting back toward another La Niña next spring, with uncertain consequences, but the trend is a cause of concern, as some of Colorado most severe extended droughts have been associated with extended La Niña periods.
On the upside, forecasters said the same conditions mean that damaging Chinook windstorms are unlikely along the Front Range this winter.
All the outlooks have been consistent in calling for warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the state, favoring the West Slope and the northwestern quadrant. There’s a chance for slightly more snow than average in southern Colorado, where the storm tracks tend to favor during El Niño events, even weak ones. Across the rest of the state, near- to slightly below average precipitation is expected, according to the outlook.
Skiers and riders hoping for some early season powder may have to wait just a little bit longer — there’s a good chance that November temps will be above normal statewide for the month, and the first 10 days of November look to be exceptionally warm and dry. During the first part of this week, several Summit County locations flirted with record highs and after a slight cool down this weekend, high pressure is expected to dominate the pattern for the foreseeable future, with a possible change around Nov. 9.
But nighttime temperatures should be cold enough for snowmaking through the period, which means ski areas will open on schedule, albeit with limited terrain.