Norwood is now in a less severe drought than it previously was. While the area was in a severe drought category, now the area is in a D-1 category, or what is considered a moderate drought.
Dennis Phillips, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said if the monsoons would have arrived and dropped precipitation as they usually do, the conditions could have improved more even dramatically this summer.
However, he called this summer the year of “non-soons.”
“They were not good — not strong. We got skunked,” he said in an interview Monday.
Phillips said that the Norwood area was in a D-zero category in early September. By the middle of September, though, the conditions were moved to a D-1. He said while winter was “great,” along with the spring runoff, the monsoon season was so weak, it didn’t improve the drought conditions as much as it could have.
According to Phillips, the summer storms didn’t get very far north in the U.S. this year. He said places like Flagstaff also suffered in terms of precipitation.
Now, “Indian summer” seems to be taking place in Norwood, and he said the outlook is that temperatures will be more than likely staying above normal for a while — or longer.
Now, neither an El Nino nor La Nina is setting up in the waters along the equator. That means this winter could be about average for precipitation. Now, Phillips said the outlook is slightly above normal chances for a milder winter with regard to temperature. He said precipitation may be about average for December through February.
“It’s more equal chances on wet or dry,” he said. “But farther to the east (in Colorado) it’s slightly above. The chances are better for more precipitation there.”
He said southwest Colorado will have to wait and see what type of weather pattern will play out.
“Whatever I tell you might not happen anyway,” he added.
He said in 2017, the local area experienced the “ridiculous, resilient ridge,” a term those in the weather service use to describe a pattern of weather that begins on the West Coast area and moves east. He said the ridiculous, resilient ridge moves as far as Colorado and loses steam, making for dry weather. In 2017, it led to one of the area’s worst droughts on record.
“When that happens, storms can’t make it here,” he said.
On the other hand, he said in back-to-back extremes, 2018 brought atmospheric river weather, like the “pineapple express,” which brings huge amounts of moisture from the Pacific Coast .
He said a few of those storms that landed in the Interior West last winter can make for great precipitation.
He said it’s still possible for 2019 to get some of those types of storms.
“We could be in good shape. … That’s what we are hoping for,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen now. We are hoping for a normal winter.”