March... Some folks think of record setting blizzards. Some folks think of unusual tornadoes ( Holly 2007 ). Some folks think of that first stretch of 70 degree weather that gets everyone outside. Yet other folks just think of how windy it can be... Well, lets see what we could potentially see for the next 30 days. If you've been reading this blog, you know that I have been touting the fact that March and April could be very stormy. So far this Winter, the main storm track has ended up just to our south. Despite this 3 month trend, I still see no reason to change my orignial line of thinking. Here is why...
Normally, March is our snowiest month. Colorado Springs averages 9.4" for the month and Pueblo 6.4". Think about this. During February, which is normally our driest month, Colorado Springs picked up 9.7" of snow. Pueblo topped that with 10.8". Pretty impressive totals for a normally not so snowy month. Given how the seasonal change works around here, and how that usually spells more storminess, I can see some decent totals coming out of March. Again, this is just the climatological side of things...
El Nino has produced some huge snows for our southern mountains and states just ot the south of Colorado. However keep in mind, El Nino doesn't guarantee huge snows for everyone in Southern Colorado. It simply increases the overall frequency of possible storms. It all depends exactly where the storm track sets up. So far, areas just to our south have had the lionshare of the snow. Will this change? I think so. As the seasonal change interacts with the ongoing El Nino, that storm track has to move north. Now it could skip right over the top of us and end up north. However, for a reason which I will go into later, I don't think that will happen. Focusing on El Nino right now, the question is, " is it still alive" and "how long will it last"?
As you can see above, the central and eastern Pacific are still in an El Nino state. In fact, El Nino has actually strengthened a bit since early February. This strengthening could mean a rapid uptick in storminess for the western US. How long will it last? That is a bit tougher, but it should last through late Spring.
If the above model projection is correct, we should be near neutral or " La Nada" conditions by June or July. This is significant, because it will likely keep the weather pattern active through that time. Thus, increasing our chances for above normal moisture through the period.
Arctic Oscillation and Pacific North American Oscillation:
Both of these oscillations are important. Per my previous blog, you saw how the strongly negative Arctic Oscillation contributed to a cold Winter. Below is the current state of the AO:
Now, it isn't as negative as it was during the heart of the Winter. However, it remains negative and will likely hover in negative territory through the Spring. This "negativity" means there will likely be cooler than normal temperatures that could contribute to snowfall. BECAUSE WE MAY END UP WITH A COOL SPRING, THIS COULD ALSO KEEP THE STORMTRACK FROM RACING NORTHWARD INTO THE NORTHERN PLAINS. STORMS DO NOT LIKE TO DEVELOP OR MOVE INTO COLD AIR. THEY LIKE TO HOVER NEAR WHERE THE GREATEST CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE OCCURS. THAT MAY MEAN IS MOVES SLIGHTLY NORTHWARD FROM ITS PRESENT POSITION AND PUTS SOUTHERN COLORADO IN A BETTER POSITION FOR MARCH STORMINESS. Take a look at the top part of that graph again... Notice how when the AO is negative, we see colder than normal temperatures ( December & February ). When it goes toward more positive levels, we see warmer weather ( November and January ). Pretty interesting stuff...
Climate Prediction Center Forecasts:
You already know what I think and what I've thought for the past few months. Will I be right? Who knows. Until that storm track shows where it is going to set up, it is a tough call. I may be entirely correct, and it ends up that Denver and Monument gets all the snow. Or maybe areas along HWY 50 get the most. Like I said, who knows... Here is what the Climate Predicition Center thinks:
CPC thinks it will be colder than normal and wetter than normal. Rather it happens or not, the signs are there for an active March. But like I said, don't count April out either. This pattern is likely to remain active for a while...
Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe