Snowpack news: Dust off your drought plan in northwest Colorado, La Niña is weakening

usdroughtmonitor02072012

From the Associated Press via USAToday.com:

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says La Niña is showing signs that it will be over by summer. Center deputy director Mike Halpert said that’s too late for the U.S. Southwest because the rainy season will be over by that time. The effects of La Niña, a cooling of the central Pacific Ocean water, are generally weaker in summer. But it is good news for the Atlantic hurricane belt. More tropical storms and hurricanes form there during La Niñas.

Forecasters don’t know what conditions will follow this La Niña. Usually a multi-year La Niña is not followed by a neutral event, Halpert said. It either goes to El Niño or comes back as another La Niña, he said.

La Niña winters can lead to great snowpack. It hasn’t panned out this year but last year was one for the record books.

From Steamboat Today (Lori Jazwick):

So how bad is the snow situation for Northwest Colorado? Unfortunately, we can’t compare this year’s totals to last year’s. Last year was an above-normal snowpack year, so comparing 2012 to 2011 indicates our water drainage basin is only at 38 percent of last year’s total. But to compare it to the norm, let’s consider a block of 30 years of data to get a more realistic picture.

Snowfall in the Yampa River basin currently is 61 percent of that 30-year average, which means we are just a little bit above half of where we should be at this time of year. So are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? To err on the side of caution, I am going to go with half-empty. According to all of the data collected by the Natural Resources Conservation Service during the past 30-plus years, we have only a 10 percent chance of reaching the average peak for this season. It looks like the odds are against us.

The good news is that because of our epic snowfall last year, our reservoirs are in good shape. Stagecoach Reservoir is at 118 percent of average, and at 93 percent of total capacity. Almost all other reservoirs are in a similar situation within the state, so that hopefully will help us in the dry months to come this summer.

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

It didn’t take long to set historic Greeley weather marks in 2012. Last month, Greeley experienced its driest and second-hottest January on record.

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