February 22nd Drought & La Nina Update

It's no big secret that we haven't had much of a Winter.  Precipitation totals are running well below normal for areas east of the mountains.  Mountain locations have done pretty well this Winter, with a snowpack running 112% of normal.  Thought it would be prudent to provide an update on the cause ( La Nina ) and the current state of our drought.

The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is Tuesday at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The maps, which are based on analysis of the data, are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Abnormally Dry category encompasses most of eastern Colorado.  The far Southeast Plains have a Moderate Drought going right now.  I would expect most of the Abnormally Dry category to be updated to Moderate Drought status pretty soon.  The upcoming week is going to be dry and warm, with no relief in sight.

Below is a graphic depicting Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies.  Notice that much of the Central and Eastern Pacific Ocean is running about 1 to 1.5 degrees C below normal.  That's La Nina my friends...

Current Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Plot

 By late this Spring, it looks like La Nina may disappear.  Right now, it looks like it will be gone by the time the "monsoon" season arrives.  Thus if we have a dry Spring ( which it looks like we will ), we may follow it with a nice rainy Summer.  Rarely is it ever perfect, as we usually see too much or not enough moisture.  Like I always say, " the extremes make the norm". 

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by shirl Location: 80919 on Mar 22, 2009 at 03:40 PM
    I would like to see more on trends as well as averages on the newscast. As the 2009 dustbowl comes about, what more can we do to lower water loss (the city says that I can't save rain water (yet I have to pay for non-pourous area property, street lights I don't have, "and street snow removal" I won't have next year.) Bitter, yes, but still love it here!
  • by ed Location: widefield on Feb 26, 2009 at 07:25 PM
    I hope all you bozos who love no snow this winter are happy now. We'll be in HIGH FIRE DANGER for quite a while. Enjoy it Colorado springs!
  • by ryan Location: monument on Feb 26, 2009 at 07:00 PM
    well say good bye to snow all winter and hello to dry windy and warm days cause there is going to be no more snow until next winter see you next winter oh and by the way if you think this is going to be a dry warm windy spring like I said welcome to denver springs colorado this summer is going to be hot you just watch
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on Feb 25, 2009 at 07:34 PM
    Paul, the frequent La Nina episodes of this decade can be attributed to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation being in the "negative" or "cool" phase. Too much information to go into detail right here, but if you google "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" you will find more info than you cared to find. During the 1990's, the PDO was in the "positive" or "warm" phase. Thus, more El Nino's and the wettest decade on record for Colorado. Some interesting reading if you truly like to "geek" about this kind of stuff. I think this Spring will be dry, windy, and warm, then we'll start to see things turn a bit by mid-Summer. We'll see... Thanks for reading our blog.
  • by Paul Location: Rockrimmon on Feb 24, 2009 at 01:09 PM
    Brian, our dryness this year might be explained by La Nina, but we've really been dry all decade. This will be the 8th year in a row of below average snow in Colorado Springs and since 2000, we've only been above average precipitation once. Any explanation for this? Is this what we can expect for Colorado Springs for the indefinite future, or is there reason to believe that it's just been a dry decade and we could just as easily see the next decade above average?
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on Feb 23, 2009 at 03:57 PM
    Keep in mind Julio, our snowiest 60day ( on average )period is yet to come. While I don't think we'll see much snow in the next two months, it only takes a storm or two to rapidly catch up. That would be cool if that happened, but I am not holding my breath. Maybe next year...
  • by Julio Location: 80907 on Feb 22, 2009 at 07:36 PM
    Thanks for the update Brian. That forecast is both discouraging and encouraging. I'm sad about the winter and it seems like our snow chances are pretty much nill for the rest of the season. If we get less than 6 inches of snow from here on out, we'll set a new all time record low for snowfall...it could and probably will happen. Oh well...so the good news is we may actually have a wet summer? That is great news actually...I was fearing another hot and dry summer (like the last couple we've had since, well...04, i think).
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