By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s the time of year when people start asking what the upcoming winter will be like in Colorado. Two of the most infamous forecasts are already out this year and they offer conflicting information.

The Farmers’ Almanac has Colorado included in an area of the country with “numb’s the word, just shovelin’ along” written over it, implying that it will be a cold and snowy winter. On their website they say to grab your gloves and fetch your fleece because winter will be a season of flip-flop conditions with notable polar coaster swings in temperature.

(credit: Farmers’ Almanac)

Meanwhile the Old Farmer’s Almanac tells a more detailed, but somewhat conflicting story. They show the western half of Colorado will be cold and dry while the eastern half will be mild, but snowy.

(credit: Old Farmer’s Almanac)

Government meteorologists at NOAA have yet to release their winter outlook for the United States, but they have issued a La Niña Watch for the country. In an update on August 12, they said there’s about a 70 percent chance for La Niña conditions to develop by October and last through the upcoming winter.

La Niña winters in Colorado can be all over the place in terms of the outcome, but more often than not, they end being somewhat chilly with a lot of wind, especially in the northern and central mountains. Snow totals can vary widely around the state. We usually find the most consistent snowfall during a La Niña winter in Colorado’s northwest and north-central mountains, due to the nearby jet stream.

(credit: CBS4)

(credit: CBS4)

A winter season in meteorology encompasses the months of December, January and February, which is 90 days, except during a leap year, when it is 91 days. Let’s say 75 of our upcoming winter days end up being mild and dry, but 15 are extremely cold and snowy.

How people will end up remembering or describing the winter will vary. Some will say the winter was easy, because they recall most of the days were mild and dry, while others may remember those 15 cold and snowy days, and will therefore say the winter was long or a rough one.

It’s all about human perception! It can also be about timing. In the example above, if the 15 cold and snowy days were somewhat equally spaced apart, meaning a winter storm were to cross the region about every 6 to 8 days, then most would probably forget about the 75 dry and mild days in between, and describe the winter as active or stormy, and potentially long or rough.

Chris Spears