After a warm and very dry Autumn, winter weather is about to take aim on Colorado.
A large ridge of high pressure has dominated the weather pattern in the western U.S. through October and November, making precipitation scarce. Pueblo tied for the driest November on record and Colorado Springs only recorded .02" of liquid precipitation for the month.
Mountain areas haven't fared any better even as the ski season started. As of this writing, statewide snowpack is at only 41% of average according to the Colorado Snow Survey Program. Monarch Mountain and Ski Cooper, both resorts that do not have snow making capabilities, haven't been able to open for the season yet due to the lack of snow.
Starting this weekend, the ridge of high pressure will set up shop over the Pacific Ocean. This will allow the jetstream, or the storm track, to dive into Colorado from the northwest. Every few days, a wave will break off from the Aleutian Low near Alaska and head toward the Rocky Mountains.
This pattern will open the door for colder air to slide southward out of Canada and should put temperatures closer to what we typically experience this time of year. In addition, the persistent northwest flow will allow snow to fall over the Continental Divide and high mountains of the state, allowing the snow pack to increase and ski conditions to improve.
Snow in southern Colorado becomes more likely with the weather systems passing through the state, but isn't necessarily guaranteed. The track of the storms coming off of the mountains and heading into the plains can provide hefty snow amounts if the move across northern New Mexico, but if they pass just to our north we can miss out.
The Stormtracker 13 team will be a lot busier over the next several weeks for certain due to the pattern change and you'll likely find yourself in winter coats more often, and hopefully even shoveling some snow!