El Nino May Be A ‘No Show’ This Winter In Colorado

Snowfall This Winter Expected To Be Near Average
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The scene at Ski Cooper on in December 2011, where a lack of snow led to a very late opening weekend. (credit: CBS)

The scene at Ski Cooper on in December 2011, where a lack of snow led to a very late opening weekend. (credit: CBS)

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Written by Meteorologist Dave AguileraIt doesn’t look like El Nino will have a strong showing this coming winter after all.

One of big ingredients in long-term forecasting is what El Nino is doing in the Pacific. El Nino is the warming of the ocean water in the Pacific off the west coast of South America. The hope was for this warming to get stronger as we head into the winter months. But, the latest El Nino status report from the NOAAs Climate Prediction Center is now showing no El Nino (warming) and no La Nina (cooling) taking place now through the winter. This situation is what is called ENSO neutral (El Nino/Southern Oscillation).

In Colorado, typically, if we have a strong El Nino this more often than not, translates into a good snow season for the central and southern mountains and Front Range of the state. Including the Denver metro area.

On average, if we have a strong La Nina snow in the central and northern mountains, along with Denver tend toward normal or near normal levels. The southern part of the state leans toward below average and drier conditions during the winter.

credit: NOAA

However, the prognosis is not horrible for getting some much-needed moisture this winter. Since we are in a “Neutral” phase, the CPC prediction through the end of February in Colorado is for hotter than normal temperatures with equal chances for above or below precipitation.

credit: NOAA

So our odds of seeing at least a normal year of snowfall are still pretty good. Let’s hope December, January and February come through with some snow, rain or sleet. We could use anything at this point. So far in November we have only had 1.7 inches of snow. Way behind the average for the month, which is 10.7 inches!

November on average is Denver’s second snowiest month. I doesn’t look like it so far.

For more detailed information on El Nino here is a link to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric El Nino webpage: elnino.noaa.gov

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