La Niña settles in for the spring

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Colorado’s snowpack is largely due to early winter snows and the outlook for the rest of the spring is warm and dry, according to a report from Karen Crummy writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

The National Weather Service has just issued its three-month forecast for Colorado: warmer and drier conditions than normal over most of the state. And don’t let those snowcapped mountains and reports of above-normal snowpack fool you. Since December, the amount of snow in the mountains has been minimal, and the snowpack is declining.

The driving factor in our weather is La Niña, said Ed O’Lenic, chief of the operations branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center in Washington, D.C. The water in the Pacific Ocean is colder than average, and that affects the pattern of the jet stream, he explained…

January tied as the 10th driest on record in Denver, with only 4.9 inches of snow, the city said; an all-time record high temperature for the date was set Jan. 21 with 71 degrees…

Nolan Doesken, climatologist for the state of Colorado, said the eastern part of Colorado has been dealing with dry conditions for a decade, with 2002 the worst. He said the drought came creeping back in earnest in early 2008 and that by the end of July, most of eastern Colorado was in the depths of drought. “We flirt with drought (every year), and even an average year is barely enough to do what we are trying to do in terms of agricultural activities in the semi-arid high plains,” he said.

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