Nov 19, 2022 - Things to Do

What a third La Niña means for Colorado's winter forecast

Seasonal precipitation winter weather map

Courtesy of NOAA

This year's snow forecast is more unpredictable than usual.

What's happening: It's our third consecutive La Niña winter — a rare occurrence that meteorologists have dubbed a "triple dip La Niña" — and most of the state is 50-50 on whether we'll get more or less snow than average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • "Looking back at snowpack across Colorado during the past La Niña years shows how this pattern brings much more variability to the mountains," Fox21 meteorologist Valerie Mills reports.

Be smart: La Niña refers to cooler water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. It typically brings above-average snowfall to the Pacific Northwest.

  • The Rockies are split in this pattern, however, with the northern and central mountains that include Colorado seeing slightly above-average or average snow totals and southern parts of the state left with below-average conditions.

What to watch: The early season in Colorado looked good, but November will end with drier weather putting snowpack below average, OpenSnow meteorologist Joel Gratz tells us.

  • For the rest of the season: "We'll hope for the best, but historical La Niña seasons in Colorado are mixed with statistics leaning just a bit toward greater than average snowfall," he adds.

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