DENVER (CBS4) – The snow season looked promising in October with a few early snowstorms in the mountains. Enough snow fell to allow three Colorado ski resorts to open before Halloween.

(credit: Loveland Ski)

But the flow of moisture quickly shut off as we moved into November and the storm track shifted away from the state. The result has been a lot of windy and dry weather over the past several weeks that fueled an unusual November wildfire and delayed the opening of at least one Colorado ski resort.

On Thursday, forecasters at NOAA released the latest winter outlook for the United States, and it paints a potentially grim picture for winter snow in Colorado. Much of the state is predicted to get near to slightly below normal amounts of snow through February. The highest chance for below normal snowfall is in the southern counties.

NOAA’s temperature outlook for December through February calls for near normal temps in extreme northern Colorado with slightly above normal temps for the rest of the state. The highest chance for above normal temps will be in the southwest corner.

La Niña winters often favor the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes states with regard to above normal rain or snow, due to the jet stream favoring areas near the Canadian border. Colorado is typically caught in between wet areas to the north and dry areas to the south.

While this latest winter outlook isn’t what we’d like to see given the current state of things in our state, let’s hope that the jet stream will occasionally dip south. We need enough frequent snow to keep the fire danger down and our water supply at acceptable levels.

And while the winter may not deliver based on the current outlook, don’t forget about spring. March, April and May can sometimes produce big, slow-moving storms that drop a lot of rain or snow. In March 2003, one storm essentially ended a major drought for most of the state.

Keep hope alive and your snow-dancing shoes on for the days and weeks to come! We’ll keep you posted on any changes to the winter outlook.

Meteorologist Chris Spears