Erin Walter, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, had a little good news, mixed with some greater bad news for The Norwood Post this week. While the drought may have let up just a little, unfortunately the short-term and long-term outlooks for precipitation don’t look good for Wright’s Mesa.
Norwood the last few years has been in a D-2 rating, a severe drought. Now, though, it’s actually sitting in a D-1 rating, a more moderate classification. The drought monitor was last updated on Nov. 24.
Walter said there’s no magic number that determines how much precipitation is required to move Norwood out of a drought. It’s matter of getting good snowpack and filling reservoirs, she said.
However, the next couple of weeks don’t look good for the drought status. In fact, the next 14 days or so show below normal chances for precipitation — and the opposite for temperatures, which are supposed to be above normal.
There is no snow on the horizon for Norwood, though the next chance for a storm coming through is the beginning of next week.
“But looking at model solutions, there are some pretty big fluctuations, which leads to less confidence or a wide range of possibilities,” Walter said.
Unfortunately the three-month outlook also is “looking pretty grim for Western Colorado,” she said.
That’s because the Four Corners area and stretching to Norwood is under roughly 33 percent below average of normal values for precipitation. There is no strong signal for snow the next three months.
This year, the U.S. is in a La Nina weather pattern. Walters said La Nina typically favors areas in the Pacific Northwest, but sometimes those storms clip the northern edges of mountain ranges in Colorado. She said those storms can trickle south in the winter season. There’s just no guarantee.
“Many factors influence the oscillations,” she said.
She said it’s true that the El Nino pattern brings the most snow to the local area. That’s when snowstorms are strongest in the Southwest, and the San Juans do better for precipitation.
At the same time, she said the State of Colorado technically falls in-between for equal chances of precipitation for both types of weather patterns. She said in the Norwood area, there is no strong signal either way.
So who will get good snow this year?
According to Walter, the outlook is favoring the Pacific Northwest, along with the northeastern portion of the U.S., especially Maine.
“Right now, the Southwest looks to be dry and below normal,” she said.
Is there any chance of at least spring snows?
Currently, the outlook extending beyond three months also shows below normal chances for March through May.
“I wish I had better news,” Walter said. “The precipitation could trickle south. We should take climate predictions with a grain of salt, too. … Maybe the equal chances (of precipitation) could shift south, but right now it’s not looking promising.”