#ElNino: “The Four Corners area is on the northern boundary of the El Niño impact” — Joe Ramey

Precipitation - U.S. Winter Outlook: 2015-2016  (Credit: NOAA)
Precipitation – U.S. Winter Outlook: 2015-2016
(Credit: NOAA)

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

The Four Corners is still trending toward a wetter, cooler winter thanks to a strong El Niño, reports the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

The 2015-16 winter forecast from December to February shows a 33 to 40 percent chance that the Four Corners will be wetter than normal. New Mexico and Texas have a 50 percent probability of a wetter-than-normal winter.

But NWS forecaster Joe Ramey cautions that the strong El Niño does not guarantee an above-average winter for the Dolores and San Miguel basins.

“It shifts the Pacific jet stream south, which favors more of the Southern states,” he said. “The Four Corners area is on the northern boundary of the El Niño impact.”

For example, the last strong El Niño was the winter of 1997-1998, which produced below-average snowpack for the Dolores Basin…

Ramey added that the current west-to-east weather patterns indicates that El Niño has kicked in, bringing additional moisture to the Southwest because of the southern shift in the jet stream.

“The monsoons that bring up moisture from the tropical south have ended,” Ramey said. “These recent storms are coming from the west, which coincides with the El Niño signal.”

Current weather corresponds to the trend as well, said Jim Andrus, a local weather watcher for the NWS.

October moisture 112 percent of normal for Cortez. And year-to-date moisture for the Cortez area is 137 percent of normal at 14.9 inches of precipitation.

According to the NWS, the 30-day precipitation outlook is above normal for Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The 90-day forecast is slated for normal to above normal precipitation for those same areas.

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