Likelihood of a white Christmas in Northwest Colorado high

There are many reasons that people enjoy living on the Western Slope. Researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) just discovered another one the probability of a white Christmas is higher than anywhere else in the state.

Researchers claim that the La Nieather phenomena that is affecting most weather patterns around the country has little impact on Northwestern Colorado.

Nolan Doesken, assistant state climatologist and research associate with CSU's Department of Atmospheric Science, has found there is little correlation between La Nind the likelihood of fresh snow in the mountains and on the Western Slope. He based his prediction on weather records dating back to 1949.

"The current weather pattern is favorable for northern and central mountain snows a few days before Christmas so that there will be a good cover of white," said Doesken.

The La Nihenomenon makes it somewhat less probable that snow will cover parts of Colorado this year as it did in 1997, said Doesken. Therefore snow for Christmas 1999 is less likely on the Eastern Slope due to prevailing La Nionditions that have been in place since early summer 1998.

Doesken compiled a chart analyzing snow on the ground and fresh snow for Dec. 24 and 25 for 19 test locations. The chart is based on a long-term history of the areas under all conditions, from 1949 to 1998.

The closest test site to Craig was Steamboat Springs. Doesken believes that there is a 96 percent chance that Steamboat Springs will have at least an inch of fresh snow on the ground for Christmas. He also predicts a 44 percent chance of having at least half inch of snowfall on Dec. 24 or 25.

In the last two days, Craig has had 5 inches of snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

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