Winter may be drier at Colorado ski resorts |

Winter may be drier at Colorado ski resorts

Robert Weller
Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
Nathan Bilow, AP/Crested Butte Mountain ResortCrested Butte's terrain park supervisor, Rick Ross, snowboards on manmade snow Friday.

DENVER, Colorado ” Although anecdotal information has ski resort managers hoping for the usual snow dump that has followed warm, dry falls, forecasters are holding out little hope.

Forecaster Klaus Wolter of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration says his latest forecast still calls for a pervasive tendency towards dry conditions throughout Colorado and most surrounding areas.

As always, he hedges his forecast by calling it experimental.

The dry, warm weather has already delayed the opening of some major ski resorts ” including some who are almost always open for Thanksgiving. Colorado’s high altitude usually means they can take that to the bank. There will be some snow by mid-week, perhaps enough to make travel painful, but not enough to makeup for the dry spell.

Most resorts have enough snowmaking to cover their mountains until the snow comes ” but they also have budgets. If they have to use the water now, what will be available if needed in the spring?

Wolter said moderate La Nina conditions have become established and aren’t going anywhere at least until early next year.

“Much of Colorado, southeastern Utah, and northeastern New Mexico appear most likely to experience a dry season, raising the specter of renewed drought in Colorado in particular. For northern Colorado, this pessimistic outlook is actually more severe than the more neutral or even wet La Nina impacts that are more typical for such winters,” he said.

“Bottomline: After a warm and mostly dry fall season, the upcoming winter may end up rekindling drought concerns in much of the Interior Southwest. Renewed drought conditions may reach further north than even during typical La Nina winters, including northern Utah and northwestern Colorado. Given the current strength and recent persistence of this La Nina event, the odds for moisture relief during the following spring season are currently below average as well,” his latest report says.

The outlook is the same much of the rest of the nation, according to a national forecast released by NOAA last week.

“NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecasters remain confident in predicting above average temperatures for much of the country including southern sections of the Northeast and below normal precipitation for the southern tier of the nation. Above average precipitation is still anticipated for the Pacific Northwest, and in the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley,” the agency said on its Web site on Thursday.

“La Nina strengthened during October, making it even more likely that the United States will see below-average precipitation in the already drought-stricken regions of the Southwest and the Southeast this winter,” said Michael Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “Recent sea surface temperatures indicate we have moderate La Nina conditions in place over the equatorial Pacific which we expect to continue into early 2008.”

On the Web

– National forecast:″winteroutlook. tml

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