This past winter was no joke. We know that there was a lot of snow and a lot of moisture in that snow as well. One of the greatest effects of a great winter season was the eradication of the drought that persisted across the state for quite some time. In fact, there was so much moisture this winter that the state of Colorado has gone completely drought-free for the first time since drought records began! Take a look below at the percent of normal precipitation we saw over the last 4 months.
A good chunk of the Colorado Rockies saw anywhere between 125-250% more moisture than what is typically expected. Most notably, the San Juan mountains and the Central mountains saw the bulk of the moisture.
But is this moisture and unsettled weather going to continue? According to the CPC (Climate Prediction Center), through the end of June and into early July, we can expect slightly wetter than normal conditions in Eastern Colorado with equal chances of normal precipitation in the mountains. See below.
Something else that we need to take note of is how cool (or warm) temperatures may be through the summer. We have a very healthy snowpack and the quality and depth of the snowpack play a crucial role in how high reservoirs get, how much flooding can be anticipated and how watersheds refill. What the CPC is insinuating with their outlook is that we will actually have a good shot at seeing below normal temperatures through the end of June and into early July.
Now, with cooler temperatures, we are not saying that there will be no snowmelt. It's summer after all, but we can infer from this data that the snowmelt may just take a bit longer due to temps not exceeding norms.
So, how long will this weather last? Thanks to a continuing El Niño, the cool and wet pattern may be sticking around for a while. The CPC puts out forecasts for 6 days out all the way up to one year out with accuracy decreasing in a uniform fashion with the length of time out.
Let's take a look at the precipitation forecast for JJA (June, July, August).
What we can infer from this is that wetter than normal conditions will exist through the end of August. Northern Colorado will likely see much above normal precipitation based on storm tracks and moisture content. So, get ready for the upcoming Colorado summer to feature a lot of green and a lot of water.
Temperatures can usually be inferred based on the precip. chances and with that. Let's take a look at the temperature forecast.
Although relating temperatures to precipitation is normally a good gauge of temperatures, it doesn't always line up exactly. Case in point, the next couple of months for Colorado look split in terms of temperature. Eastern Colorado will see a chance of below normal temperatures while areas like Denver and Colorado Springs and up to Steamboat will see normal temperatures. What stands out is the warmer than normal temperatures expected in the western half of the state. Areas from Grand Junction to Telluride might see slightly warmer temperatures than what they normally feel through the summer.
With all of this in mind, I think the big question is, "what is going to happen next winter?" We'll touch base on that later. For now, enjoy the wetter than normal summer we'll have and rest easy knowing that no extreme drought is in the forecast. In fact, the drought outlook through August looks promising.
So promising in fact, that the little drought that we do have in the Southwest US, is likely to be removed completely or at least improve.
This summer with wetter conditions, we can infer that there may be more thunderstorm activity. Please be prepared for thunderstorms and flash flooding through the summer when making your outdoor plans. Always check the weather ahead of time and make sure you have a plan in place in case you do get caught in the mountains with rain and thunder and lightning around.