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Climate expert looks at future for Colorado weather

Story and photos Nikki Work | Reporter/Designer
Nolan Doesken, state climatologist and director of CoCoRaHS at Colorado State University, laughs with the audience during his presentation at the Colorado Farm Show on Jan. 28 in Greeley, Colo.
Nikki Work |

CoCoRaHs

The CoCoRaHs program is a nonprofit that relies on a large network of volunteers to take measurements of snow, hail and rain daily.

For more information or to become a volunteer, visit http://www.cocorahs.org.

By the numbers - 2014 in Weather

60th warmest winter on record

34th warmest spring

39th warmest summer

22nd warmest fall

38th wettest year on record

After drought in 2012, floods in 2013 and moderate weather last year, Nolan Doesken knows Colorado’s farmers are looking to this year with uncertain eyes.

During his presentation at the Colorado Farm Show at Island Grove Regional Park on Wednesday, the state climatologist and director of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) program at Colorado State University, looked back at the weather of 2014 and forward to the year ahead. In 2014, Doesken reported a normal year statistically, with lower summer temperatures and the highest levels of reservoir storage since 2012. The year was also “a very fine year for snowpack” in the South Platte Basin, he said.

Looking to this water year, which spans from October 2014-September 2015, Doesken said things are looking to be moderate once again. Snowpack in the South Platte basin is currently above average, due to boosts in moisture around Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, statewide, most areas are reporting 85 percent of the average snowpack or higher, with the only exceptions located in southern Colorado. Doesken said it will be a weak year for one of the most buzzed about weather indicators — El Niño.



“El Niño is never able to get its act together,” he joked.

This year is predicted to continue a multi-year trend of higher temperatures in areas west of the Continental Divide. Also, southeastern Colorado, which has been suffering a long-lasting drought, is showing above average predictions for moisture.



“I am feeling good about the fact that we could have a decent spring moisture,” Doesken said, adding that there will always be variability he can’t predict. “I’m thinking hotter, but with OK moisture at least for the first part of the summer.” ❖


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