With a little bit of snow on the ground and Scholarship Day at the Steamboat Ski Area less than two weeks away, thoughts of the upcoming ski season and, after a winter like last year, snow levels have begun to consume the brains of many of us who have chosen to make our homes here in Steamboat Springs. I even got excited and wrote a blog about our first expected snow of the season back in early October. An article published this morning in the Steamboat Today titled Uncertainty in short-term, long-term forecasts for Steamboat Springs attempts to bring some answers.
According to the article, the long term forecast is presenting some problems for meteorologists attempting to predict just what kind of winter Northwest Colorado has in store. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is now calling for a winter unaffected by either the El Nino or La Nina weather patterns. Instead of the El Nino pattern that earlier forecasts had predicted for the coming winter which typically brings less than favorable snow conditions to Northwest Colorado, the ENSO-neutral conditions which are now predicted for the area create more trouble for forecasters attempting to tell how us how much snow we will be able to look forward to.
The Steamboat Ski Area has seen both its best winter ever (1996-1997, 447.75 inches) and its worst winter ever (1980-1981, 133.25 inches) during ENSO-neutral seasons. The Climate Prediction Center also shows quite a bit of uncertainty for the area’s three month outlook with nearly an equal chance of below average, average and above average precipitation for the region. That makes it nearly impossible for forecasters to predict what’s in store for us this year.
For those of you hoping for a winter of epic snow proportions, it might not be a bad idea to do a little snow dance or two in an attempt to sway the snow gods. One thing’s for certain…As the days grow shorter and the air gets colder, we’ll see soon enough one way or another what the winter will bring.