Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and other Colorado Mountains
For skiers, snowboarders, and snow enthusiasts in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, a La Nina or neutral winter can be an unwanted guest. During La Nina winters, the strength of storm systems are reduced meaning usually less snow accumulation. When comparing snowfall charts below for Vail Colorado, in the winter of 2018-19 (El Niño) versus 2020-21 (La Niña), there were 10 events over 6+ inches during El Niño , 7 for La Niña. Overall snowfall for the resort was 281” 18/19 and 192” 20/21 season.
There were 77 snow events, in 18/19, where it snowed at least 1 inch vs. 56 events last season.
The Pattern for this Winter
The dynamic coupling of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and the cycling pattern, create the path and strength of storms throughout the northern hemisphere . Since ENSO is predicted to be either neutral or La Niña for this upcoming winter, we can expect a similar amount of snowfall events and accumulation like last year.
Each year is different, however, and the positioning of the other Tele-connections, such as the Arctic oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), Madden Julian oscillation (MJO), and the Pacific North American pattern (PNA) can change the results—good or bad.
Think of a vehicle with the four teleconnections as tires. The size of the engine is ENSO, El Niño is like a giant SUV (Excursion or Hummer) La Niña is like a minivan and Neutral conditions are like the huge car your Grandpa drove (Picture 1970s Buick).
Neutral years are wild cards. That’s why I use the grandpa reference. Some grandpas drive 30 in a 50 mph zone, while others, like my grandfather, didn’t know there was a speed limit.
Much more to come as we get a little closer to October. Stay tuned.
Weather forecast for Vail Colorado. Weather forecast for Summit county. Weather forecast for Beavercreek Colorado. Weather forecast for Breckenridge Colorado.