Moisture Could Be Scarce This Winter On The Front Range

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s Front Range may not get many wet days this winter if the government’s weather forecasters are correct.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a La Niña advisory.

Ample snow is again expected in the northern mountains, but around Denver the long-range outlook calls for another winter of dry, windy weather all because of La Niña.

“We have buoys all through this area that are detecting ocean temperatures,” said Beth Russell, research assistant with NOAA Science on a Sphere.

El Nino means sea temperatures are warmer than normal. La Niña is cooler than normal. So when more dark blue color is tracked by the computer model, it means one thing.

“Just recently we switched back to a La Niña, which is where waters are cooler than normal off the coast of South America, and we care about this because it has global impacts on the weather,” Russell said.

In the Rockies, La Niña tends to shift the jet stream farther north.

“We tend to get heavy weather on the north side of the weather systems, so that means the northern part of colorado tends to be snowier than usual where the southern Rockies tend to be dry,” Chad Gimmestad with the National Weather Service said.

Denver and the Front Range are windier than normal as well as dry under La Niña.

More From CBS4 Meteorologist Dave Aguilera: Our Winter Season May Again Be Affected By La Niña

Never foolproof, La Niña is pretty accurate in places where the signal is strong, like California. But in Colorado it can be unreliable.

Still it’s worth remembering last winter was also a La Niña. So it provided advance notice of heavy winter storms as well snowmelt flooding in mountains. While on the Front Range spring wildfires were the unfortunate result of La Niña’s typically dry, windy spring.

Last season’s strong La Niña was blamed for the drought across the southwestern U.S. It also caused heavy rain in Australia and extremely dry conditions in Africa.

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