Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What will El Nino bring Steamboat?

Several people have asked me about the impact of El Nino on snow in Steamboat recently so I thought it was worth a post. Serious skiers are optimists by nature just like farmers except we plant the seeds of a bountiful powder harvest in our dreams, we study ski ratings in the heat of August, compare stories of powder days & seasons past, watch the latest ski movie releases in the fall, check our gear the first time we see a snowfalke in the air and plan out our strategy for the next season to get out on the best powder days.

Study the forecasts below carefully and start working on your best snow dance. Locals will tend to say that El Nino benefits Steamboat so make sure your are prepared.

Excerpts quoted from From the Vail Daily:
"El Nino has made a surprise appearance across the world in Indonesia, and some say that could mean a wetter winter here in our corner of the Colorado Rockies. But wait. Long-range forecasts released in August by the Western Regional Climate Center non-committally call for equal chances of above-average precipitation, below-average precipitation, or normal precipitation for Western Colorado through December.

No, it will be snowy — the Farmer’s Almanac’s, using its long-trusted “secret formula,” says it will be snowier than normal this winter.
Or not. National Weather Service’s 90-day outlooks call for higher than average precipitation in New Mexico and much of Arizona, but, alas, not Colorado, said Jim Daniels, a meteorologist with the agency’s Grand Junction office. But if El Nino does continue to strengthen during the winter, Colorado could get more moisture later in the season, Daniels said.

When it comes to long-range predictions, you might get some help from meteorologists. Or you might do better to just rely on prayers to the snow gods. The Farmer’s Almanac says winter in the Intermountain region — which includes western Colorado and parts of Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho — will be colder and snowier than normal.

Last week, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration said El Nino is likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter. And Daniels said there is some correlation between El Nino and snowfall in western Colorado. “It allows more storms to come across our area,” he said. The snowiest times will be mid-November, mid-January, mid- and late February and early and mid-March, the almanac says. The almanac says it uses a secret formula devised in 1792 to predict the weather. “Our results are almost always very close to our traditional claim of 80 percent,” the almanac says.

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