Southeast Colorado has been out of the drought for a couple years now. However, we know how quickly drought can develop if we get into an unfavorable pattern. So, let's break down what we thing will happen in the next few months.
As of right now, we have a developing/weak La Niña that hasn't fully coupled with the atmosphere. In fact, it may not couple with the atmosphere. Why is that oceanic/atmospheric coupling important? Because it is that coupling that produces the usual impact of a La Niña or El Niño. That being said, it is not necessary to have that coupling to produce an impact. For Southeast Colorado, a La Niña episode of any strength is usually not a good thing. It usually produces a drying effect ala the map below:
Historically speaking, El Niño is usually the wettest pattern for Southeast Colorado. However, there is really not much difference between neutral and La Niña in terms of moisture. Check out the following moisture graphs to see the differences:
Basically, history shows us that with El Niño out of the picture for this fall and winter, our wettest times are likely behind us.
Do models think this La Niña episode will get stronger and produce a stronger impact? No, the various models in the ENSO ensemble show a weak event at best being gone as we head into spring:
The timing of this weak La Niña event weakening is significant. Having a dry winter is one thing...a dry winter and spring is another thing entirely. So, here is what we think will happen...
Temperature Forecast November - January:
Precipitation Forecast November - January:
Temperature Forecast January - March:
Precipitation Forecast January - March:
In general, we think November will be a more changeable month than October. This mean that storms may be more frequent, and COULD produce some decent snow if the track is right. However, with this type of pattern areas along and north of I-70 seem to get more moisture than areas to the south. For this reason, we are advising to have your drought plan ready to enact. Beyond March, is still pretty uncertain and something we will be updating you on in the coming weeks.