The forecasts, known as “SWcasts” have been supported by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Forecasts will be updated on a monthly or seasonal basis on Klaus Wolter’s website. The updates will include the current status and outlook for ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) and what this means for Colorado in particular.
Here’s Klaus’ executive summary from the website:
1. After reaching levels not seen in 35 years, La Niña has finally turned a corner to weaken more rapidly just in the last month. It will probably take a ‘leave of absence’ this summer, but odds are still better than 50/50 that it will return later this year.
2. In the Front Range, March ended up dry, windy, and warm, as is typical for La Niña. It stayed wetter than expected in our mountains. April started out in the same fashion, with last night’s storm a decisive return to ‘near-normal’ for the next week or two. I stated last month that April has the best odds of deviating from a general dry spring pattern in Colorado with La Niña. This will curb fire danger in the next two weeks.
3. My forecast for late spring (April-June) shows a tilt towards dryness covering the southern and eastern parts of our state, while near-normal or even wetter-than-normal conditions might linger over northwestern Colorado. The latter forecast is now supported by better skill than in previous months. The first forecast for the summer (July-September) is fraught with uncertainty this far out, but fairly benign (mostly near-normal or even wet), for what it’s worth. The expected break in La Niña conditions should help in that respect.
4. Since mid-March, our last WATF meeting, there have been a couple of dust storms in the San Juans, but not at the frequency of the last two years. Given their low snowpack, we may see an accelerated snowmelt in that part of our state next month.
5. Bottomline (unchanged since March): Count your blessings, this La Niña winter has delivered decent amounts of snow in our mountains which will lead to a good runoff season in much of our state. I am much less optimistic for local conditions over the eastern plains, nor do I expect a repeat performance for our mountains next year.
6. Coda: This is the first edition of my renewed ‘SWcasts’. For now, funding has been restored to keep them going for at least one more time (into June), with good prospects for the period beyond that. They will probably not stay in this particular format for very long, nor do I anticipate regular monthly updates. I will keep things posted on this website. THANK YOU to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for supporting this effort, and to all of you who wrote letters of support in the past year or so.