Southeast Colorado Long Range Forecast Update, April 15th, 2017

Current Status
Thanks to a very active weather pattern that got going around March 22nd, much of Southeast Colorado has picked up some very nice moisture. Granted, some areas are doing better than others, but it is a lot better than it has been. The map below shows total liquid moisture during the past 30 days.

Rule of thumb, if you put good moisture in the ground during the late winter and early spring, you SHOULDN'T have to worry about drought development later.

The Oceans and El Niño

The map above shows current sea surface temperature anomalies. Red means warmer than average and blue means colder than average. You can clearly see that the ENSO regions off the west coast of South America are warmer than average. This warmth becomes less pronounced as you go westward, but is still average to slightly above average. The interesting thing here is the cooler than average water off the west coast of Australia, in the Southern Indian Ocean. History tells us that when you have cooler than average water in the Southern Indian Ocean and warmer than average water off the west coast of South America, that an El Niño is brewing. We've been chatting about that for awhile now, and we haven't changed our thinking. Are we in the midst of an El Niño now? Not quite, but most models agree it is coming... Another thing you can take away from the map is that the Pacific basin is still quite warm. Thus, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is still in a warm/positive state. That USUALLY means average to above average moisture is a pretty good bet.

The yellow line in the above graphic shows the mean of all the different model forecasts. It takes us into weak to moderate El Niño territory by mid to late summer. Given the current state of the oceans and the model forecasts, it is tough to argue against the development of an El Niño. What does summer El Niño mean in terms of temperature and moisture for Southeast Colorado? Let's take a look...

May, June, July Temperature

May, June, July Precipitation

Historically, when an El Niño is present during the spring and early summer Southeast Colorado is a bit cooler/wetter than when neutral or La Niña conditions are present. In fact, it is noticeably wetter than when neutral or La Nina conditions are present... However, since we likely won't have a developed El Niño for most of this time, we might be able to scale these anomalies back a bit. Not much though...

CFSv2 Model Temperature Forecast



CFSv2 Model Precipitation Forecast



The CFSv2 Model is forecasting average temperatures during May, but much below average temperatures during June. It is also forecasting above average precipitation, for Southeast Colorado.

NMME Model Temperature Forecast



NMME Model Precipitation Forecast



The NMME Model is forecasting warmer than average temperatures for May, and near average temperatures for June. It is also forecasting average to above average precipitation, for Southeast Colorado.

Obviously, the main difference between the two models is the temperature forecast. However, the wet signal from the CFSv2 Model is stronger than the NMME Model. If it is wetter, there are more clouds, the ground is wetter, and we don't warm up like we usually do. I think that is what the CFSv2 Model is banking on. We'll hedge a bit warmer than that model suggests with our forecast.

Weather5280 Forecast May and June

May, June Temperature Forecast

May, June Precipitation Forecast

Here is a fact that there is really no getting around...Eastern Colorado is a high desert. Even during the wettest years, there will usually be some extended dry time. However, the elements at play in this forecast do not suggest that widespread or persistent dryness will be a problem. In fact, it could be the exact opposite for the late spring and early summer. Right now, we are leaning toward wetter than average for much of Southeast Colorado.