Forecast/snowpack news: Saturday may bring snow to the central mountains, chance of snow to the Denver area

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From The Aspen Times (Janey Urquhart):

Central Colorado is suffering a La Niña weather pattern that has sent storms north, south or both, according to Chris Cuoco, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Weather systems have tracked south over Arizona and New Mexico or stayed north and then slipped down the Front Range and dumped in Denver and the Central Plains.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like anything’s going to happen until next Saturday (Jan. 7) at the earliest,” Cuoco said.

The local weather bloggers at aspenweather.net offered this on Saturday: “After next weekend the pattern has a distinct look of change as things totally realign themselves out in the Pacific Ocean. This could be the pivotal make or break point of our winter, depending on how things turn out in about 10 days or so.”[…]

At present, though, the snowpack in the Roaring Fork River basin stands at 55 percent of average, and at about 47 percent of average on Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen. The snowpack is at 62 percent of average on McClure Pass, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In southwest Colorado, the snowpack is at 65 percent of average or more.

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Benjamin Preston):

This is the second year in a row La Niña has shaken her snowless fists in the faces of Rocky Mountain residents dependent upon snowfall for water supply and snow sports…

[Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service center in Grand Junction] explained that the system expected this weekend will be moving quickly, so probably won’t leave much behind, especially in areas farther north of the Four Corners.

From 9News.com (Tara Meyer):

“We are sitting about where most of the western U.S. is right now, below-average snowpack across the west,” Mike Gillespie, a snow survey supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said. “The only exception is actually down south like Arizona and New Mexico where their snowpack is actually above average.”

Across Colorado, snowpack is about a quarter below average: 73 percent of normal. It’s one of the smallest snowpacks at this point in the season in the last 30 years.

When comparing the current amount of snow to historical data, the Natural Resources Conservation Service says Colorado only has a 10 percent chance of getting back to a normal level for snowpack by spring.

The lack of moisture could have a major impact on Colorado’s farmers. However, some say they’re not too worried.

Brad Johnson grows corn, alfalfa, wheat and other crops on his farm near Berthoud in Larimer County. He says because Colorado saw above-average snowfall last year, reservoirs filled up along the Front Range and that water is still being used.

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