All Coloradans, regardless of their ski-pass status, are curious about what the winter weather has in store. The moisture we accumulate these next few months will determine not only how much we enjoy the slopes, but also our drought conditions, reservoir levels, streamflows and wildfire risk for the coming year.
The National Integrated Drought Information (NIDI) system reports that from October 2017 to September 2018, the Southwestern United states experienced below-normal to record-low precipitation. There is a 70-75 percent chance of El Niño this winter.
The last four El Niño’s have brought above average snowfall to the Front Range and the Denver metro area, and will often alter the jet stream to favor average to above average snow for most of Colorado.
John Fasullo, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder said it is typical of El Niño to give southern Colorado high chances at above-average snow and higher chances for northern Colorado to get below average snow, while the central part of the state is less affected.
The NIDI says it is still too soon to predict how strong El Niño may become. The odds of reaching 100% normal precipitation for October 2017 to September 2019 are low and significant drought is expected to persist in Utah, Colorado and northern Arizona and New Mexico.