Dry weather returns to state – for now | AspenTimes.com

Dry weather returns to state – for now

Jeremy Heiman

If sunny, dry weather puts a damper on a ski vacation, some folks around Aspen are likely to start grumbling.

The weather outlook calls for sunny and dry conditions early this week, according to a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, though a new storm may be lurking around the corner.

Michael Meyers, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said Friday the National Weather Service’s computer models that make long-range forecasts show no possible precipitation in the next few days. But the possibility exists of a system moving through at the end of this week, he said.

“It looks like the pattern’s trying to switch again, toward the new year.”

Meyers said the La Nia conditions that affected the world’s weather patterns last winter are still around. But the phenomenon may not have a definite signature in this part of the country.

“In northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, you don’t see a lot of effect,” Meyers said. The weather can be expected to be like what we see in years when neither La Nia nor its opposite, El Nio, are present.

One impact of La Nia that is evident on the Western Slope, Meyers noted, is the tendency for prolonged weather patterns.

“If there’s a dry pattern, it’s usually a prolonged dry pattern,” he said. That has shown itself to be true this winter, he said, in that much of November’s weather was dominated by a high pressure ridge, which stuck around and kept moisture out of the Rockies. Then, in December, a series of low pressure troughs moved through the state, bringing some snow.

“Now we’re in a ridge again,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to kick out of it in the next week or so.”

The polar jet stream, which in La Nia years carries cold air into the Pacific Northwest states, has been in that position for some time. When the jet stream carries moisture off the Pacific, precipitation results, but it stays mostly to the north, Meyers said.

“The bottom line is the northern states get more precipitation than the southern states,” he said. And that has proved true, so far.

“Seattle’s been getting hammered,” Meyers said. And storms have proceeded across the northern tier of states. But Colorado’s snowpack is below normal, statewide.

According to information from Colorado’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin is about 58 percent of normal. McClure Pass south of Carbondale, one of the reporting areas for the state snow survey, has about 35 percent of normal.

Southwest Colorado is even worse off, with about 20 percent of the normal average snowpack for this time of year.

One of the nation’s oldest means of predicting the weather, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” predicts cold and snow showers from Dec. 27 to the end of the year. But the almanac’s record hasn’t been very good this winter. It predicted heavy snow and rain for the Rocky Mountain region in the last week of November, and “sunny” for Dec. 12 to 20. Both of those predictions were largely off base.


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