Winter looks warm, possibly dry | AspenTimes.com

Winter looks warm, possibly dry

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” This winter’s weather probably won’t make skiers and riders jump for joy in Aspen and the rest of western Colorado, according to the latest report by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

The area west of the Continental Divide can expect warmer temperatures than usual and precipitation that is normal or below, the Climate Prediction Center’s report said.

The winter will be dominated by a moderate “La Nina episode” that will push the main strong track into the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies, the report said. “Moderate La Nina patterns tend to favor below normal precipitation in the Four Corners area, and near normal precipitation in the mountains of northwest Colorado and northeast Utah.”

La Nina periods occur when the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are cooler than usual. Meteorologists say a La Nina episode happens when conditions persist for at least five months.

For western Colorado, the La Nina translates into strong odds for above normal temperatures throughout the winter, the Climate Prediction Center said. No strong trend was foreseen for precipitation in the early- and mid-winter, but conditions are expected to be dry in late winter. In general, the report said, areas south of Interstate 70 could experience below normal precipitation.

A La Nina episode in the 1999-2000 winter resulted in near normal snowfall in the central and northern mountains of Colorado. A previous La Nina in 1998-99 brought only 60 to 80 percent of normal precipitation.

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The latest long range outlook from the Climate Prediction Center can be found at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/top_ten.shtml.

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