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NOAA'S winter outlook has been released, here's what it looks like for Colorado

Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park
Posted at 10:05 AM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 12:05:54-04

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has released their winter outlook for the country. Here's how the odds are trending across the country for the upcoming winter, and how this could affect Colorado.

What are the predictions for the country this winter?
Warmer and drier than normal weather is expected for the upcoming winter season across most of the United States.

This map shows the temperature outlook across the United States from January through March. While colder than normal spells could still occur everywhere, the areas highlighted in orange show the most likely spots to see warmer than normal temperatures through the winter.

This map shows the precipitation outlook across the United State for the same period. The most likely areas for above average snowfall are the northern states from Montana through Minnesota, and out to New York. Only California and a swath from Texas to Louisiana are showing below average precipitation chances this winter.

How do El Nino or La Nina come into play?
This year, they really don't! ENSO Neutral conditions are favored for the upcoming winter season, meaning we won't really see the effects of El Nino or La Nina.

Because of ENSO neutral conditions, forecasters have to lean on a few other climate patterns, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation (AO), to determine the winter season.

How will this affect Colorado?

Tuesday Weather: Dry and awesome into Thanksgiving!

Based on the winter outlook and what we know about ENSO neutral conditions, this will probably be a warmer and slightly less snowy winter for our state.

Colorado is favored for warmer than average temperatures and normal amounts of precipitation for the upcoming winter season. Warmer air could lead to less snowfall compared to normal, due to warmer air limiting snowfall ratios. Colder air makes bigger snowflakes, while warmer air keeps them small.

Yes it's going to get cold, and yes we're going to have a few big snows! Even the warmest and driest winters in Colorado still get cold with big snow storms, that's what living in the mountains will do. If this prediction comes true, it'll just mean we could see fewer cold snaps and less snowfall than we saw last year.