The Weather Wire
March 2006 Volume 14 Number 3
Avg High 46.1
Avg Low 15.7
Snow - 3.0"
Season Snow - 21.3"
Precipitation - 0.15"
Avg High 53.7
Avg Low 25.4
Avg Snow - 11.7"
Avg Precip - 1.28"
There was an interesting article in the Sunday Denver Post regarding La Nina and its effect on the rain and snow patterns here in Colorado. La Nina is cold opposite of the warm El Nino. Basically a pool of cooler ocean water set up off the west coast of South America. The cold pool is about the size of the United States. During an El Nino just the opposite happens with a warmer pool of water setting up off the coast of South America.
These large pools of warm and cool water affects weather patterns here in the Rockies by shifting the jet stream either north or south depending on the intensity and size of the cold or warm pool of water. This years La Nina has pushed the polar jet stream northward over the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the US. Then the jet moves across the Pacific Northwest dropping southward through the northern Rockies the then into the Central Plains. This has in effect split Colorado in 3 pieces. The northern and central mountains of Colorado have been seeing record breaking snows this year, while the southern mountains have been well below normal with their snowfall. The eastern plains of Colorado north to south has been dry with the moisture staying in the mountains to the north and not making it to the lower elevations.
This is what is happening with this years’ La Nina. I would caution though as the article failed to do that forecasting what will happen with the next La Nina will be no more than just a guess. We still cannot forecast these events in the future. The main reason is that each El Nino or La Nina is different from the last. Yes the general nature of the event we know. Either a cool pool of water of warm pool sets up off the coast of South America. Here is where it gets tricky for each event the pool may be slightly warmer of cooler than the previous event. The size and depth of this pool of water will vary from event to event. Each of these variances causes a variance in the weather pattern in the west. The polar jet may shift to the north only 400 or 500 miles in one event and 500 to 1000 miles in a stronger event. This would definitely an effect on the weather for Colorado, but most likely not like we are seeing it from the current La Nina event. The problem being that although each event is similar they are also distinct in many ways from each other.
We are still in the learning mode for the Pacific Ocean events. What we are doing is seeing the change in Ocean temperatures and then seeing the resulting changes in the weather patterns. We are still a long way from being able to predict exactly what parts of the country will be wet and those that will dry when we see an El Nino or La Nina develop
Skyview Offers Safety Classes
As we discussed in last months newsletter, risk management is a critical component of each organization. One component is education, and Skyview Weather is proud to announce educational classes intended to promote weather awareness and increased safety. At this time, the following classes are available.
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Basic Weather Safety for Coaches - This 60-90 minute safety oriented class is similar to Basic Weather Safety, but designed for coaches and other administrators that must determine whether to suspend or cancel outdoor sports events. Heavy emphasis on lightning safety, as well as severe thunderstorm safety is presented. A review of NWS publicly disseminated products, including watches and warnings, is included. Basic weather safety, including flash flood safety, lightning safety, and tornado safety is discussed.
Extended Weather Safety and Spotting - As with the above classes, this all day class begins with basic weather safety, including flash flood safety, lightning safety, and tornado safety as well as reviewing NWS products, with specific emphasis on watches and warnings. Basic weather concepts and definitions are discussed, with extensive time on the role of spotters, and key spotting features of developing severe storms. Video presentations are included as well.
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Getting the most from Skyview Weather ... Client-Skyview interaction - This 2 hour class focuses on how existing clients of Skyview Weather can get the most from Skyview Weathers extensive services. A review of what Skyview offers, product delivery, and Skyview Weather terms is presented.
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Online Forecasts Available
Skyview Weather is happy to announce that online forecasts and snow reports are again available on our sister www.anythingweather.com website. Forecasts and snow reports are password protected, but an email to Tim@Skyview-WX.com requesting your forecast and/or snow reports be available online will result in an account being setup for you. As always, forecasts and snow reports are for client use only, but with the online access, forecasts and snow reports are just a click away from any computer with an internet connection!
Some increase in drought conditions across Colorado was noted during February 2006, primarily over eastern and southern portions of the state.
The map below shows forecasted temperature deviances for March 2006. As can be seen, normal temperatures are expected most of Colorado for March 2006.
The map below shows forecasted precipitation deviances for March 2006. Normal or near normal precipitation is expected for much of Colorado for March 2006, though southeastern portions of the state can expect less than average precipitation..
As can be seen in the below map, much of the state remains out of widespread drought conditions, though the southern and southeastern portions of the state are seeing increased areas of drought.
Denver set 6 records during February 2006. It was a roller coaster record setting spree involving 4 record low temperatures and 2 record setting high temperatures. The record high temperature on February 28th of 77 degrees ties the all time warmest February temperature with February 4th 1890. On the 27th, the record high of 73 was tied with 1904. The four record low temperatures were set in a three day period: 17th record low -10, the old record -9 last set in 1933; 18th record low -13, old record -9 set in 1880; the 18th record low maximum of 7 degrees, old record 14 last set in 1929. Record low of -4 set on the 19th, the old record of 3 was last set in 1889. Temperatures during the month ranged from the 77 on the 28th to the -13 on the 18th. The average temperature of 30.9 was 2.3 degrees below the normal average for the month of 33.2 degrees.
We had five measurable precipitation days , but only had a total of 0.15 inch in the rain gage at the end of the month. This was 0.34 inch below the normal of 0.49 inch. This marks the 3rd month in a row with below normal precipitation. The greatest 24 hour total was only 0.09 inch on the 15th and 16th. There were only 4 days with measurable snow reported with a total of just 3.0 inches. This brings the seasonal total to 21.3 inches which is 18.3 inches below the normal of 39.6 inches.
The weather in Denver during March features frequent and rapid changes. Longer days allow for more sunshine makes for spring like weather. However, occasional arctic air masses can still plunge southward across Colorado rapidly dropping temperatures with some readings falling to near zero.
The changeable weather is due to weather elements common to both winter and spring. In addition to the arctic fronts, pacific storms still frequently move in from the west and warm moist air streams in from the Gulf of Mexico northwestward into Colorado. When any of these cold fronts collide over Colorado with the warmer air masses, the resulting weather can be wild and crazy for areas surrounding Denver.
A prime example of the changeable March weather in Denver occurred on March 8th 1992. The sky was sunny over Denver during the morning hours allowing the temperature to reach 52 degrees by midday. During the afternoon, tornadoes and thunderstorms, containing hail, developed across the northeast plains including the Denver metro area. A Canadian cold front zipped across the east during the late afternoon dropping temperatures sharply and creating blizzard conditions along the Front Range. The storm dropped 12.4 inches of snow at Stapleton Airport with greater amounts reported across the Metro area.
Another example of variable weather during March was in 2003. On March 17th a tornado was observed and filmed near Bennett with temperatures in the 40s. Later in the day the second strongest winter storm in Denver history was to begin. During the period March 17-20, 31.8 inches of snow was recorded at the former Stapleton Airport. 87.5 inches of snowfall was recorded in and around Rollinsville in the foothills west of Denver.
March is the snowiest month of the year. However, even the heaviest snow rarely stays on the ground very long due to the abundance of sunshine and rapidly moderating temperatures. March 2003 became the snowiest March ever in Denver weather history with 35.2 inches. But on occasion very little snowfall occurs during March. Only 0.3 inch in 1883 and 0.4 inch in 1911. In 2004 just one year after the record setting March 2003, only 1.8 inches was recorded. March also usually begins the spring thunderstorm season with at least one thunderstorm before the month ends.
Sunrise/Sunset (Denver area)
October 2005 to April 2006