Summit County: Schizo spring storms on the way; La Nina fades |

Summit County: Schizo spring storms on the way; La Nina fades

Janice Kurbjun

April’s approaching with warmer temperatures, but the snow’s not going away this week.

“It will be pretty unsettled next week,” said Kyle Fredin, meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

A west-northwest flow from the Pacific continues without drawing air from the Arctic or Canadian area, but it seems to be a relatively unpredictable system, he said.

“It’s not well-organized,” Fredin said. “It’s a continuous pattern of moist flow in the mid and upper levels.”

The most snow is supposed to fall along the Continental Divide, with snowfall increasing today into tonight. About

3-6 inches is slated for tonight for west-facing slopes above 10,500 feet. Storm totals won’t be much more, Fredin said, and he’s fairly certain no advisories will be issued for this storm.

NOAA reports that the La Nina system constituted by lower-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific is weakening and loosening its hold on Colorado weather, though it has behaved largely as predicted for the past few months.

But, even as the sea surface temperatures warm and La Nina loses its strength, Colorado will still be affected. Periods of mountain snow and strong winds on the Western Slope will be matched with very dry, windy and abnormally warm conditions on the Front Range for at least another month, the report states. Drought and elevated wildland fire danger are among the threats on the Front Range. The report adds that the downslope – Chinook – winds east of the Continental Divide could be damaging to homes and property east of the Divide.

Abnormally dry conditions also exist in the San Luis Valley, as well as along the east-facing slopes of the San Juan, La Garita, Rampart and Front Range mountains in the northeast part of the sate.

The Pacific jetstream will migrate northwards in the next few months, with occasional rain and snow events dipping into Wyoming and northern Colorado.

Three-month temperature and precipitation outlooks for the Western Slope show that the warming trend could mean the accelerated melting of an abnormally deep snowpack, which could mean high runoff into area waterways. The weather service also predicts subsequent warming and drying in the area into the summer.

There’s a 40-50 percent chance for above-average temperatures across central portions of Colorado looking into April and beyond. At the same time, the outlook is for a 40-50 percent chance of below average precipitation for all but the northeast corner of Colorado during April, a trend continuing into the three-month outlook.

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