By Chris Spears
DENVER (CBS4) – NOAA released their winter outlook this week and it shows Colorado has a decent chance to see a warmer-than-normal season.
In fact up to a 50% chance in some parts of the state.
The forecast is a little less clear for precipitation.
A large part of the state is in a category called equal chances, which simply means that no particular trend is favored.
One thing driving this forecast is that the upcoming winter weather patterns could be influenced by La Niña.
NOAA forecasters say there’s a 55 to 65% chance of La Niña developing this winter, which is a cooling of the waters in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean along the equator.
This cooling can have a major influence on global weather patterns.
Sometimes during a La Niña Colorado can see above normal precipitation in the northwest and north-central mountains.
NOAA’s outlook shows a slight chance of that happening this winter.
But here’s why I say don’t get too excited over this forecast, in particular, the temperature portion of it.
Winter outlooks cover 90 days, or the meteorological winter, which starts December 1 and ends February 28. It’s important for you to understand how we get an average winter temperature.
It’s simple math.
For the 90-day period, add up all of the highs and divide by 90, then add up all of the lows and divide by 90. Once you have an average high and an average low, add those two numbers together and divide by two.
In Denver, the average winter temperature is just over 31 degrees.
So if we end up with an average temperature this winter of 33 degrees in Denver then NOAA’s forecast for a warmer-than-normal season will verify.
But that 90-day average could have included several days with bitter cold, many near normal, and enough so exceptionally warm that it skews the average.
The bottom line is despite a warmer-than-normal winter outlook we are still going to see plenty of days with cold and probably even snow.
Meteorologist Chris Spears travels weekly in the CBS4 Mobile Weather Lab reporting about Colorado’s weather and climate. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.