This Winter's Snowfall Will Not Be As Intense As Last Year's

Sep 16, 2019

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

That's because the region won't be seeing El Niño and La Niña conditions this season. Colorado State climatologist Russ Schumacher said during La Niña conditions, it's more wet and cool while in El Niño, it's warmer and dryer. This year will likely be neutral.

"When we're in neutral conditions, which is what is expected as the most likely scenario, we do tend to have […] below normal snow years compared to above normal," he said.

Schumacher said last season was extreme.

"Lots of places in mountains saw near record to record snowpack and extremes are rare by definition," he said. "Just by probability it's not that likely that we will see another year like that."

El Niño and La Niña are patterns in the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean near the Equator. At times they can reflect global temperature trends. Schumacher said when conditions are neutral like this anything could happen.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.