El Niño setting up in eastern Pacific

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Both farmers and ski area operators spend a lot of time with one eye on the sky. Here’s a report about this year’s El Niño and what to expect from Brittany Havard writing for the Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

The exact reason an El Niño weather pattern occurs is not certain, but during El Niño winters areas in the far Pacific Northwest and Gulf of Mexico react strongly to weather signals, producing excess precipitation. States like Colorado that lie directly in the middle of these strong signals receive fewer storms, according to the National Weather Service.

“We typically only get about six storms a winter that produce over a foot of snow per storm. If we get four, it’s a dry year. If we get eight, it’s wet. It looks like December, January, and February will be below average in precipitation, but hopefully we’ll get some bigger storms this spring,” said Joe Ramey, a forecaster at National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office…

Typically with an El Niño winter, states west of the Continental Divide get big storms in the fall and spring, though this year, the fall has been relatively dry — a concern for a tourism-driven Telluride economy. One hope for powder hounds is that the Farmer’s Almanac is in complete disagreement with the National Weather Service. “We continue to be at odds with the Farmer’s Almanac who continue to do their own thing. They’re saying it’s going to be a cold winter with significant snowfall, which is exactly opposite of what we’re saying,” said Ramey…

2008 and 2008 were La Niña winters, meaning the waters off the Peruvian coast were cooler, providing more snowfall for some states west of the Continental Divide.

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