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November 04, 2007

La Nina's Effect on Southwest Skiing

The Montrose Express has some info on La Nina:

MONTROSE — La Niña's influence on southwest Colorado ski resorts may result in less snowfall than normal, said Jim Pringle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

"It looks like it could be an interesting winter," Pringle said. "La Niña is gonna be a little stronger than what was indicated even a month ago. The stronger a pattern is, the greater the confidence that these events with above and below normal (conditions) will occur."

Last year there was a moderate El Niño pattern through winter months. El Niño refers to an event in which sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are above normal. La Niña, also known as "El Viejo," occurs when such ocean temperatures are below normal.

"Sea surface temperature patterns influence jet stream flows and jet stream flows drive storm tracks," Pringle said.

In the case of La Niña, the jet stream tends to fall through the Pacific Northwest. This could result in above-average snowfall through areas including the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies. Steamboat Springs appears likely to receive above-average snow this winter, he said.

"La Niña has been closer to above-normal North and below-normal South trends," Pringle said with regard to snow conditions.

Snowfall in the San Juans could be average or a bit below normal. The National Weather Service predicts La Niña's effect on New Mexico and Arizona to be much more apparent, with less precipitation and higher than average temperatures.

This does not bode well for Brian Head, Sunrise, or Arizona Snowbowl who had poor winters last year despite a weak El Nino.

Last season did not conform to predictions based on the El Nino, so I am hoping that for the Southwest, this season will not suffer because of La Nina.

Posted by Justin at November 4, 2007 02:55 PM