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Stormy, Wet Summer Could Be In Store For Colorado

Forecasters Say El Niño May Be Developing
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The current precipitation outlook for the lower 48 states by the Climate Prediction Center shows wet conditions over Colorado between June and August. (credit: CBS)

The current precipitation outlook for the lower 48 states by the Climate Prediction Center shows wet conditions over Colorado between June and August. (credit: CBS)

Chris Spears By Chris Spears
CBS4 Meteorologist
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DENVER (CBS4) – If you enjoy a stormy, wet summer, then you might be in luck this year!

Forecasters are keeping a close eye on the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean because there are signs that an El Niño could develop soon.

The latest precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows Colorado and much of the central Rockies as being wetter-than-normal starting in June.

WHAT IS EL NIÑO?

The American Meteorological Society defines an El Niño as a significant increase in the sea surface temperatures over the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The term El Niño was originally coined by fishermen from northern Peru when they noticed an annual warm coastal current that developed shortly after the Christmas season; hence the Spanish name referring to “the Christ Child.”

These warming episodes brought torrential rainfall to the desert coastal regions of southern Ecuador and northern Peru.

SUMMER EL NIÑO IN COLORADO

For this story, I took at look at every year since 1950 and selected the ones where an El Niño was in progress during the climatological summer, which is the period June-August.

There were 15 years with an active El Niño. (1951, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1972, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2009)

Then, I looked at the precipitation totals for the same time period in Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs.

According to the data, both Denver and Colorado Springs have a 67% chance for a wetter-than-normal summer. Grand Junction has a 47% chance.

DENVER

Denver’s current average precipitation for the period June-August is 5.83 inches. The following are totals recorded during the 15 El Niño episodes in this study.

1951 – 7.57 inches
1953 – 4.69 inches
1957 – 4.41 inches
1958 – 6.14 inches
1963 – 6.66 inches
1965 – 11.61 inches
1969 – 5.59 inches
1972 – 6.28 inches
1982 – 4.34 inches
1987 – 6.26 inches
1991 – 10.00 inches
1997 – 11.69 inches
2002 – 3.62 inches
2004 – 7.68 inches
2009 – 9.56 inches

COLORADO SPRINGS

Colorado Springs’ current average precipitation for the period June-August is 8.41 inches. The following are totals recorded during the 15 El Niño episodes in this study.

1951 – 10.11 inches
1953 – 5.37 inches
1957 – 6.51 inches
1958 – 8.63 inches
1963 – 7.79 inches
1965 – 16.85 inches
1969 – 9.00 inches
1972 – 9.70 inches
1982 – 12.82 inches
1987 – 6.33 inches
1991 – 10.51 inches
1997 – 14.77 inches
2002 – 3.22 inches
2004 – 14.98 inches
2009 – 8.55 inches

GRAND JUNCTION

Grand Junction’s current average precipitation for the period June-August is 2.02 inches. The following are totals recorded during the 15 El Niño episodes in this study.

1951 – 1.63 inches
1953 – 3.17 inches
1957 – 4.66 inches
1958 – 1.52 inches
1963 – 3.29 inches
1965 – 2.89 inches
1969 – 3.16 inches
1972 – 0.96 inches
1982 – 1.50 inches
1987 – 2.57 inches
1991 – 1.27 inches
1997 – 3.24 inches
2002 – 1.36 inches
2004 – 0.38 inches
2009 – 1.54 inches

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