March 15, 2008

The Warm, Dry Winter That Never Arrived--Colorado's Second Wettest Winter Ever, Scientists Baffled

Winter precipitation was much above average from the Midwest to parts of the West, notably Kansas, Colorado and Utah. Although moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions were present in the equatorial Pacific the winter was unique for the above average rain and snowfall in the Southwest, where La Niña typically brings drier-than-average conditions--NOAA

Nothing typical about the latest regional and statewide (Colorado) snowpack levels:




From The Pueblo Chieftain:
It appears the warm, dry winter never arrived.

A warm, dry spring still is being forecast by the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, but that shouldn’t hamper the valley’s water supply, as reservoir storage continues to increase, streams run high and water managers make room for an expected flood of imported water.

Snowpack in the Arkansas Basin is at record levels through mid-March, with several feet of snow with high water content at nearly all sites. Snowpack was at 159 percent of average in the basin as of Friday, and running ahead of any previously recorded years. Already, snowpack is far above the maximum average accumulation as well.

Conditions were similar in the San Luis Valley, where officials are concerned about spring flooding and snowpack is rated at 154 percent of average.

Statewide, snowpack was 126 percent of average.
So, um, how could this be?

From NOAA:
Winter precipitation was much above average from the Midwest to parts of the West, notably Kansas, Colorado and Utah. Although moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions were present in the equatorial Pacific the winter was unique for the above average rain and snowfall in the Southwest, where La Niña typically brings drier-than-average conditions.

During January alone, 170 inches of snow fell at the Alta ski area near Salt Lake City, Utah, more than twice the normal amount for the month, eclipsing the previous record of 168 inches that fell in 1967. At the end of February, seasonal precipitation for the 2008 Water Year, which began on October 1, 2007, was well above average over much of the West.

Mountain snowpack exceeded 150 percent of average in large parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon at the end of February. Spring run-off from the above average snowpack in the West is expected to be beneficial in drought plagued areas.
Record February precipitation in the Northeast helped make the winter the fifth wettest on record for the region. New York had its wettest winter, while Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, and Colorado to the West, had their second wettest.

Snowfall was above normal in northern New England, where some locations posted all-time record winter snow totals. Concord, N.H., received 100.1 inches, which was 22.1 inches above the previous record set during the winter of 1886-87. Burlington, Vt., received 103.2 inches, which was 6.3 inches above the previous record set during the winter of 1970-71.
Wait, there's more--Steamboat Springs hitting an all-time record for snowfall in a season before the middle of March, and more on Colorado's impressive snowpack.

How impressive? Second. Wettest. Winter. Ever.

But how do record precipiation figures look visually?

Glad you asked:


Way, way above average in more than half the states


Not especially toasty anywhere this winter

From early February, when "climate experts" admitted they were way, way off base:
Dry-winter forecasts were flat wrong this year for much of Colorado and the Southwest, and weather experts say they're struggling to understand why the snow just keeps falling.

Some forecasters blame climate change, and others point to the simple vicissitudes of weather. Regardless, almost everyone called for a dry-to-normal winter in Colorado and the Southwest — but today, the state's mountains are piled so thick with snow that state reservoirs could fill and floods could be widespread this spring.

"The polar jet stream has been on steroids. We don't understand this. It's pushing our limits, and it's humbling," said Klaus Wolter, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Wolter, however, remained defiant--"I'm sticking with my forecast, except that I acknowledge I have some egg on my face."

Try an omelette.

Gateway Pundit has maintained an extensive and excellent archive of similar global cold weather-related phenomena in a series aptly titled--"Brrrr!"

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