Strong #LaNiña decreases chances for storms in #FourCorners — The #Durango Herald #ENSO #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Nathan Fey, seen here paddling the Lower Dolores River. The lower Dolores River depends on a deep snowpack for boating releases from McPhee Reservoir. (Photo courtesy Nathan Fey)

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga) via The Durango Herald:

Sorry skiers, ranchers and kayakers: Weather observers see no relief in sight for a persistent drought that has gripped the Four Corners.

A strong La Niña weather pattern has helped shift the jet stream farther north, which keeps storms from reaching the Four Corners, officials said.

“It’s the strongest La Niña in 10 years,” said Jim Andrus, a weather observer for the National Weather Service. “Even when we do get storms that dip down our way, they are weak at most.”

[…]

The long-term forecast for the Four Corners is below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures, said Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

High pressure and a dry air mass are generally blocking storms from reaching and forming in the area, he said…

Colorado snowpack basin-filled map December 9, 2020 via the NRCS.

Snowpack is well below average in Southwest Colorado.

Snotel stations in the mountains that measure snowfall, show the Dolores and San Miguel river basins are 48% of normal as of Dec. 7.

The Animas River Basin is at 38% of normal, and the Gunnison River Basin is at 53% of normal.

The Telluride Ski Resort reports a 21-inch base, and Purgatory Resort has a 16-inch base.

As of Dec. 3, Southwest Colorado and most of the Western Slope were in “exceptional” drought, the worst level out of five, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Most of Utah and Arizona also were in exceptional drought.

Colorado Drought Monitor December 1, 2020.

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