Yup, the groundhog saw his shadow. Big deal, right? Yup, that's how I feel. But I'm going to take it a step further. I don't think we are just going to see six more weeks of Winter, I actually think it will be more like twelve weeks. Aside from December, we've had a very tame Winter. El Nino has kept the southern storm track active, but most of the storm have gone just a bit too far to the south. I got several questions about how active our Winter was going to be given the El Nino, and my answer was simple. I said that just because we have an El Nino, it doesn't directly mean we would see more snow this Winter. It simply meant that the storm track would be in our vicinity and it would be active. Well, it has been just that. Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have been pretty stormy, for quite a while. However, even if the storm track is merely close to us, it doesn't always mean we get hit by a certain storm. Nuff said on that topic...
So let's get to the meat of my topic. Why do I think twelve more weeks of Winter? It looks like El Nino is going to hold through the Spring. Traditionally, we have wet Springs when an El Nino is occurring. March through April is usually our snowiest time of year, and when you throw El Nino into the equation, the liklihood of that occurring increases. That is why I've been saying that I think our Winter is just about ready to show up.
The graphic above shows a model prediction of the cycle of the current El Nino. It shows a tendency for the El Nino to weaken steadily then level off a bit for the Summer. If we can keep a weak El Nino through the Summer, that would bode very well for a relatively wet Summer. However, some of lines of the plume do show La Nina development by the Summer. That would be a bad thing, and would likely produce a dry late Summer and very dry Fall. Tough to say at this point though...
I know a lot of you are pessimistic about how this Winter has gone, but rarely do we see a lot of snow before March and April. Plus, January and February are usually pretty dry months around here. Thankfully, we still are doing ok regarding drought.
Drought monitor shows dry conditions across the western and northern part of the state, but that is it. It was quite a different story just a year ago, when drought conditions were existing all over the state. Until that changes, I am going to continue to be optimistic that this El Nino is just about ready to make itself relevant in Southern Colorado.
Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe
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