(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — Thanks to a series of storms, Colorado’s snowpack is above average this time of the year, and most of Southern Colorado is right where it should be this time of the year, yet one area has fallen short.
As of last week, the statewide snowpack is 131% of normal, with our highest amounts found over the mountains. However, one river basin is still trailing behind; the Arkansas River Basin, which is at 84% percent of normal, the lowest in the state.
If we look at the Arkansas River Basin a little closer, one city, in particular, stands out and is far behind where it should be this time of the year; that city is Pueblo.
So far this month, Pueblo has received 6.6” of snow. Compared to where the city should be this time of the season, normally Pueblo should have received 14.2’’, and right now only at 1.2” inches, Pueblo has fallen -7.5’’ behind.
It’s not that recent storms have aimed away from Pueblo, but yet where they are located that brings the issue and as the National Weather Service in Pueblo calls it, they have remained in a “Precipitation Doughnut Hole.”
But why is this?
The “Pueblo Precipitation Doughnut Hole” is not a new concept. It simply means, this area tends to get less precipitation than areas immediately around it. Cañon City and areas south of Colorado Springs, like Fountain, are also included in this doughnut hole effect.
Precipitation in these areas generally falls on the short side because of location. Pueblo is tucked close to the Arkansas River, and at a lower elevation than surrounding areas like the Palmer Divide and Raton Mesa, it tends to receive more ‘downsloping wind.’ or wind that is warmer and drier.
Most of the time, this downsloping wind is northerly, southerly, or westerly and from those directions, the downsloping wind leaves no room for precipitation to form.
However, there are exceptions. If the wind changes direction and arrives from the east, then Pueblo and surrounding areas have a better shot at moisture. Also, if a stronger or more dynamic storm develops, it too can help remove the effects of downsloping wind.
Luckily there is still time to make up Pueblo’s deficit. With more storms in the forecast for the next few weeks and a lot of Winter still to go, Pueblo and the Arkansas River Basin just need more big snow storms to help.