Preliminary Winter Outlook: 2013-14

It is just the end of September, but a lot of folks want an analysis of what lies ahead for the winter. Most of you know that I do a lot of long range forecasting (specifically for farmers/ranchers), so I am poised to give you a preliminary analysis.

We have been dealing with a borderline La Nina event for the past several months, but for the most part, we haven't been seeing La Nina or El Nino. That allowed us to see some significant monsoon rain, and has greatly helped with the drought. That being said, many areas saw too much rain and we've been dealing with a flooding issue. Rarely do we ever get the right amount of moisture...we either get too much or too little. The extremes make up the norm here in Colorado, and most people are aware of that. However, it has been a long time since Southern Colorado has seen a good winter. By good, I mean adequate to above normal snowfall. I think the last significant winter for Southern Colorado occurred in 2005-06. Since then, we really haven't seen much widespread or significant snow during the winter season... So, what will we see this winter? Keep in mind, I am still wrestling with some of the main players right now, but here is a look at one of the long range models that seems to have a grip on the overall pattern.

CFSv2 Model Precipitation Forecast (Green = Wet Brown=Dry White=Normal)

(Maps start with November and end with May)

So why am I using the CFSv2 Model for this forecast?  Well, it seems to have a grasp of the overall weather patterns including whether we'll see an El Nino or not in 2014.  I believe we will transition to a weak El Nino late winter and spring, which should invigorate the southern branch of the jet stream.  This usually means a higher frequency of moisture producing storms coming out of the Desert Southwest, which usually benefit the Southern Rockies and Southwestern High Plains...Southern Colorado included.  My main focus is on the March, April, May timeframe, as it appears to be the most active part of our winter, which is historically accurate.  If the transition to that weak El Nino occurs sooner than late winter, we may see active weather a bit sooner.  Either way, I am encouraged by what I am seeing in the models.  It has been a while since we've seen good snow in Southern Colorado during the spring.  This would also do wonders for completely curing the regional drought.  By the same token, we may have to worry about the prospects of flooding (Waldo Canyon) sooner than we did this year.  Remember, the month of May is usually when we transition from snow to rain, and it can rain pretty hard in May.

Again, this is a preliminary analysis and I haven't even touched on temperatures.  However, I believe the first half of the winter may be warmer than normal, followed by a cooler than normal late winter and spring.  More on that later, but this should give you enough info to go on for a little while...

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe

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