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Dry fall weather outlook could lead to worsening drought conditions

La Nina Outlook
Fall precipitation outlook
Posted at 7:01 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 21:14:56-04

The autumnal equinox starts in Colorado this Tuesday, at 7:31 am

As we soon transition to shorter days and colder temperatures, the outlook this year largely depends on La Nina.

A La Nina Advisory is currently in effect for the northern hemisphere, and is likely to continue through winter 2021.

The determining factor for the El Nino/La Nina cycle is based on sea surface temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. Current sea surface temperatures in this region are below average by 0.9 degrees Celsius.

Back here at's a moderate La Nina that we expect to see this year, and it looks to peak between November and January.

What exactly does this mean for Southern Colorado?

La Nina Outlook
La Nina outlook for Southern Colorado

Given historical records, it's likely to be drier than average, with a good chance that the drought persists or even worsens over the next few months.

As for snow, we're likely to see less frequent storms, with sub-par snow totals through the first quarter of 2021.

Let's look further into this by examining the 90-day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

From October to December, the outlook heavily favors well above average temperatures for Colorado, especially here in Southern Colorado.

All of the Lower 48 has a good chance of a warmer than average fall, and check out that bulls-eye right over the 4-Corners region. This is typical of La Nina conditions.

Fall precipitation outlook
October-November-December precipitation outlook

Precipitation for the southern half of the United States is expected to be below average. A small area over the Pacific Northwest has the best chance this fall of seeing above average rain and snow.

Although in La Nina years we typically see a decrease in storms, it's important to note that powerful winter storms will still blast the region. After all, this is Southern Colorado