Weather outlook for winter

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Skiers enjoy fresh snow at Keystone resort on Nov. 22.

Meteorological winter started on December 1st, so I thought it appropriate to see where we are at with snow so far this season and what we might expect during the winter months of Dec., Jan., and Feb. as 2019 turns to 2020.

It’s been a snowy start for sure, with several significant storms already impacting southern Colorado.

Remember the first snow of the year on October 10th? While it only dropped 2″-5″ in our local mountain communities and 1″ – 3″ for the higher terrain of the Pikes Peak region, including parts of Colorado Springs, there was a flash freeze on the roads in the late morning and early afternoon under a heavy band that caused a number of accidents. Late in the day many of the roads had melted the ice already.

Two other significant storms at the end of November (22nd and 26th) both produced more than a foot of snow in parts of the Pikes Peak Region.

Snow information for the Colorado Springs and Pueblo airports, the official climate reporting stations for each city, as of December 1, 2019.

It’s also been a good start to the snow season in Colorado’s mountains. The Colorado Snow Survey has automated weather stations that measure snowpack in terms of how much water is actually in the snow. We’re above average across the state as we head into meteorological winter.

As of Monday morning, Dec. 2, snowpack across the state of Colorado is running 117% of average, and every river basin in the state is above average snowpack.
Average high temperatures through the winter months at the Colorado Springs airport.

Temperatures bottom out along Colorado’s front range during mid to late December. At the Colorado Springs airport, the average high temperature is 41 degrees on December 15th. We hold pretty steady on the averages through January before warming up during February as days really start to get longer.

For the upcoming winter season, the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast over the next three months shows equal chances of having above or below average moisture in Colorado. That means that large scale features that tend to drive weather patterns don’t provide a clear-cut signal for our state. However, you can see that the northern plains are more likely than not to be above average, so let’s hope we catch some of that activity.

Colors indicate areas that are likely to be above or below average during the winter months. Forecast courtesy of NOAA / Climate Prediction Center

In terms of temperatures, we’ve got a 33% probability of being above average on temperatures through the winter months, while the southwestern corner of the state and most of the southwestern U.S. has a 66% probability of being warmer than average. That doesn’t mean we won’t have several cold spells through the winter months, but over that time, we are more likely than not to run above average. We’ll see!

Colors indicate areas that are likely to be above or below average during the winter months. Forecast courtesy of NOAA / Climate Prediction Center

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