La Nina about to loosen her grip on Grand County
May 27, 2011
Snow jokes are beginning to fly around Grand County Facebook pages. From Rick Rauch of Minturn: “If you think this (ski) season was epic, just wait. We’re 170 days from opening day and its already snowing!”
From George Davis of Hot Sulphur, “OK, I’m beginning to believe there are two seasons up here in the mountains, winter and July!”
And from Karen Gadberry of Winter Park: “Snowing again. I’m wearing flip-flops. Don’t care anymore.”
While residents of Colorado’s high country are beginning to wonder if the snow will ever stop falling, and weather buffs are ecstatic about the historical snowpack, it looks like Colorado’s old adage, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute,” is going to hold true for Memorial Day Weekend, according to National Weather Service forecaster Bernie Meier.
The area will see its periods of sunshine broken up by an active pattern of showers and thunderstorms with a chance of snow at night. Storms will be preceded by periods of breeziness, with winds gusting up to 35 mph down in the valley. Weekend highs will be in the 50s and 60s with lows in the 30s.
But there is some good news, depending on your point of view. The weather should start clearing Monday as the jet stream dips down over California, causing it to bow above Colorado, pulling warm dry conditions into the mountains, according to the Weather Service’s La Nina guru Mike Baker.
Grand County could see temperatures start to warm up pretty fast with nighttime temperatures remaining above freezing for most of the week, Baker said. This is good if you’re a river raft guide, but maybe not so great if you’re a town manager worried about flooding.
Until now, temperatures in the high country have continued to drop below freezing at night, keeping the melting snowpack in check. Combined with warm southeasterly winds, the snowmelt next week could be “robust,” Baker said.
The dip in the jet stream will start moving toward Colorado by the end of next week, bringing another cooler batch of storms to the area.
The strong La Nina effect this winter has held the jet stream over the central part of country, putting Colorado in the path of frequent storms that have dumped a tremendous amount of snow along the Continental Divide.
As La Nina weakens in coming weeks, the jet stream should begin moving north, Baker said, leaving Colorado out of its path.