2011/2012 Winter Outlook for South Central and Southeast Colorado

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) of NOAA’s National Weather Service has announced the re-emergence of La Nina conditions across the eastern equatorial Pacific, with the expectation that these conditions will strengthen and persist through the Northern Hemisphere Winter Season, before diminishing through the spring of 2012.

La Nina is the periodic cooling of ocean waters in the east-central equatorial Pacific, which can have an impact on the weather patterns across the globe. 

South central and southeast Colorado has a slight indication to warmer than normal temperatures for the winter months of December 2011 through February 2012, with most of the area leaning towards equal chances of seeing above, below or near normal precipitation; save slightly higher chances of above normal precipitation across the northern mountains and slightly higher chances of below normal precipitation for extreme southeastern Colorado. Trends in the data also suggest leaning towards a higher percentage of above seasonal snowfall across the upper Arkansas River basin. Trends in the data would also support at or below normal snowfall for the Upper Rio Grande and San Juan River basins along with better chances of below average snowfall across the eastern mountains and plains.  

In general, we will still see snow and cold temperatures this winter; however if the current La Nina persists, the frequency of precipitating storms may be decreased, especially across the eastern mountains and plains. This does not bode well for the ongoing drought across the region. 

National Weather Service Precipitation Reports for October-2010 compared to 2011: 

                                                2010                       2011 

Eads                                       0.18                        0.15
Haswell                                 0.05                        0.08
Holly                                       0.20                        1.14
John Martin Dam                  0.00                        0.15
La Junta                                  0.04                        0.21
Lamar                                      0.04                        0.17
Las Animas                             0.00                        0.14
Walsh                                      0.23                        1.26


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