La Nina in Colorado: An Update

Posted: Mar 30, 2011 by Sam Szarka

Early spring snow conditions near Berthoud Pass

For avid backcountry skiers, the snowfall in Colorado this year has been excellent with lots of powder at the higher elevations. Here is what to expect for the next few months…

Conditions in the Eastern Pacific continue to show improving sea surface temperatures which translated into layman’s terms means a weakening La Nina. For those who don’t know, La Nina is a global climate pattern that occurs when sea surface temperatures cool to below-average levels in the eastern Pacific. It is in a sense, the opposite of the famous El Nino phenomenon that causes floods and droughts world-wide.

The winter of 2010-2011 in Colorado has been influenced by this La Nina climate pattern. The effects of La Nina have been at or above average snow fall in the central and northern Colorado mountains (especially west of the Continental Divide), and dry and windy conditions on the plains and the eastern mountains. The drier air east of the Divide has caused drought conditions in eastern Colorado.

Precipitation Across Eastern Colorado is 25 - 70% of Normal

According to NWS Boulder Meteorologist, Mike Baker, we can expect to see La Nina weaken into spring and early summer, with continued dry conditions in eastern Colorado as the jet stream shifts northward with the approach of summer.

For a more detailed discussion of the April through June Colorado weather a download of theĀ 2011 Spring Weather Outlook for the Front Range & Colorado is available.