NWS, NOAA comment on Craig’s impending winter | CraigDailyPress.com

NWS, NOAA comment on Craig’s impending winter

Joe Moylan
Leaves carry snow after the first snowfall of the season in Becky's Plummer's yard on Thompson Hill.

Snowfall in Craig

A historical look at snowfall from 1894 to 2010 in Craig:

• Average annual total snowfall: 72.3 inches

• Average October total snowfall: 2.5 inches

• High snowfall for October: 20 inches in 1985/86

• Between 1894 and 2010: snow has been recorded Oct. 8 34 times, with the highest accumulation being 2 inches in 1990.

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— Source: National Weather Service data recorded at the station in Craig.

Old man winter reappeared Thursday, dusting Craig and Moffat County with less than an inch of snow.

The first snow prompted some to wonder what the coming winter had in store this year for the community.

According to a news release issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., the Northern Hemisphere is about to experience a unique climate event — back-to-back La Nina episodes.

Jim Pringle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said two types of naturally occurring phenomena that take place in the equatorial Pacific Ocean called El Nino and La Nina affect climate in the Northern Hemisphere.

An El Nino episode refers to the warming of ocean surface temperatures, which in the U.S. means cooler than average temperatures across the southern half of the country and warmer temperatures in the north.

A La Nina episode refers to the cooling of ocean surface temps, which creates a variable polar jet stream that brings cold air and stormy conditions into the lower 48 states from Alaska and Canada.

Historically speaking, a La Nina episode for Colorado means snow early, often and lasting longer into the spring.

Pringle said back-to-back La Nina patterns are unique and have only occurred on 10 other occasions since 1900.

Last year, the country was in a moderate to strong La Nina weather pattern, Pringle said. And 80 percent of the time, the second of consecutive La Nina years usually isn't as "wet" as the first.

"We're expecting similar storm tracks to last year," Pringle said. "But, we're not expecting it to be as severe."

What that means exactly is anyone's guess, Pringle said.

"It's just one of those things we'll have to wait and see," he said.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center stated in its release that the La Nina pattern is not as strong as it was this time last year. The organization is predicting a weak to moderate winter.

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Snowfall in Craig

A historical look at snowfall from 1894 to 2010 in Craig:

• Average annual total snowfall: 72.3 inches

• Average October total snowfall: 2.5 inches

• High snowfall for October: 20 inches in 1985/86

• Between 1894 and 2010: snow has been recorded Oct. 8 34 times, with the highest accumulation being 2 inches in 1990.

— Source: National Weather Service data recorded at the station in Craig.

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