Pagosa Weather DECEMBER SUMMARY and January outlook

Snowpack improved significantly during December

Colorado snowpack improved significantly during December!

Sunday – 2 January 2022 – 5:30pm

December 2021 Summary…

The average low for December is 5 and the average high is 39. The record high of 70 occurred on 3 Dec 1906. The record low of -35 occurred on 19 Dec 1909. December precip averages 1.89″ with 22.6″ of snow. Wolf Creek averages 78.7″ of snow in December and 159.9″ to this point in the season.

How did we do? Check out these charts…

Temps in December were 2 to 6 degrees above average
Temps in December were 2 to 6 degrees above average
December precip departure from average shows that most areas west of the Divide did well and areas east of the Divide didn't. Most of Archuleta County was in the 150% to 300% range!
December precip departure from average shows that most areas west of the Divide did well and areas east of the Divide didn’t. Most of Archuleta County was in the 150% to 300% range!
Unfortunately data was missing for the first part of December so this is just the last two weeks.  This is Quantitative Precipitation Estimates (QPE) which uses multiple sources. It's not perfect but it's helpful in data sparse areas like ours. 

It's good to see that the whole county got precip. The northeastern half of the county did very well with 2" or more.  And those purple areas are in the 10" to 15" range!
Unfortunately data was missing for the first part of December so this is just the last two weeks. This is Quantitative Precipitation Estimates (QPE) which uses multiple sources. It’s not perfect but it’s helpful in data sparse areas like ours.

It’s good to see that the whole county got precip. The northeastern half of the county did very well with 2″ or more. And those purple areas are in the 10″ to 15″ range!
CoCoRaHS December liquid equivalent (LE) totals range from 2.99" to 5.10" - well above the average of 1.89"
CoCoRaHS December liquid equivalent (LE) totals range from 2.99″ to 5.10″ – well above the average of 1.89″
 CoCoRaHS December snowfall totals range from 22.5" to 55.7" - mostly well above the average of 22.6". Differences in elevation account for much of the variance.
CoCoRaHS December snowfall totals range from 22.5″ to 55.7″ – mostly well above the average of 22.6″. Differences in elevation account for much of the variance.

Note… We can always use more CoCoRaHS observers. Data is hit and miss or nonexistent in town, Arboles, Chama, and Dulce. For more info, please go to this link: CoCoRaHS

2021 Precip totals…

These are the CoCoRaHS precip totals for 2021.  They range from 15.29" to 22.55".  The average is 21.92" so most of us were below average for the year.
These are the CoCoRaHS precip totals for 2021. They range from 15.29″ to 22.55″. The average is 21.92″ so most of us were below average for the year.

Snowpack update…

Wolf Creek got 170" of snow in December with 120" of that falling in the last 9 days of the month! They were well above the December average of 78.7" and the average of 159.9" to this point in the season.
Wolf Creek got 170″ of snow in December with 120″ of that falling in the last 9 days of the month! They were well above the December average of 78.7″ and are above the average of 159.9″ to this point in the season.
Snowpack for 30 Nov is on the left and on the right is 1 Jan.  That is an impressive improvement!
Snowpack for 30 Nov is on the left and on the right is 1 Jan. That is an impressive improvement!
Snowpack for 1 Dec is on the left and on the right is 1 Jan.  Much of the western US has seen an improvement.
Snowpack for 1 Dec is on the left and on the right is 1 Jan. Much of the western US has seen an improvement.
Snowpack data for our nearby basins with 1 Dec on the left and 1 Jan on the right. The Upper San Juan snotel went from 25% to 148%.  The Wolf Creek Summit snotel went from 53% to 152%.
Snowpack data for our nearby basins with 1 Dec on the left and 1 Jan on the right. The Upper San Juan snotel went from 25% to 148%. The Wolf Creek Summit snotel went from 53% to 152%.

Drought update…

Colorado drought maps with 30 Nov on the left and 28 Dec on the right.  There was a little improvement in Archuleta County but the 28 Dec map doesn't capture the entire storm cycle.  These are updated every Thursday and I expect it to indicate farther improvement across western Colorado.
Colorado drought maps with 30 Nov on the left and 28 Dec on the right. There was a little improvement in Archuleta County but the 28 Dec map doesn’t capture the entire storm cycle. These are updated every Thursday and I expect the next one to indicate further improvement across western Colorado.

January outlook…

The average low for January is 2 and the average high is 37. The record high of 59 occurred on 1 Jan 1981. The record low of -42 occurred on 13 Jan 1963. January precip averages 2.08″ with 30.4″ of snow. Wolf Creek averages 76.1″ of snow in January and 236″ to this point in the season.

And here’s the outlook…

The Climate Prediction Center January temperature outlook indicates that we have a 40-50% chance for above average temps.
The Climate Prediction Center January temperature outlook indicates that we have a 40-50% chance for above average temps.
 The Climate Prediction Center January precip outlook indicates that we have an equal chance for above average precip.
The Climate Prediction Center January precip outlook indicates that we have an equal chance for average precip.
This is the Euro model 7-day 500mb anomaly from 7 Jan at 5pm to 1 Feb at 5pm.  Each chart 1 day forward but averages the preceding 7 days.  500mb is roughly 18,000ft and is a good level to track the overall pattern.  Warm colors, yellow and orange, generally indicate ridging and inactive weather.  Cool colors, blue and purple, indicate a more active pattern.  Ridging builds in most of the first half of the month and then the pattern gets more active the second half. To me this indicates the best storm energy will stay to our north and we'll just get scraps.
This is the Euro model 7-day 500mb anomaly from 7 Jan at 5pm to 1 Feb at 5pm. Each chart is 1 day forward but averages the preceding 7 days. 500mb is roughly 18,000ft and is a good level to track the overall pattern. Warm colors, yellow and orange, generally indicate ridging and inactive weather. Cool colors, blue and purple, indicate a more active pattern.

Ridging builds in most of the first half of the month and then the pattern gets more active the second half. To me this indicates the best storm energy will stay to our north and we’ll just get scraps.
 This is the GFS model 7-day 500mb anomaly from 7 Jan at 5pm to 1 Feb at 5pm.  Each chart is 1 day forward but averages the preceding 7 days.  500mb is roughly 18,000ft and is a good level to track the overall pattern.  Warm colors, yellow and orange, generally indicate ridging and inactive weather.  Cool colors, blue and purple, indicate a more active pattern.  

Ridging builds in most of the first half of the month and then the pattern gets more active the second half. The GFS expects the pattern to be a bit more active than the Euro.
This is the GFS model 7-day 500mb anomaly from 7 Jan at 5pm to 1 Feb at 5pm. Each chart is 1 day forward but averages the preceding 7 days. 500mb is roughly 18,000ft and is a good level to track the overall pattern. Warm colors, yellow and orange, generally indicate ridging and inactive weather. Cool colors, blue and purple, indicate a more active pattern.

Ridging builds in most of the first half of the month and then the pattern gets more active the second half. The GFS expects the pattern to be a bit more active than the Euro.

And what do I expect? We’ll see above average temps and below average to average precip. The first half of the month precip will be below average so we’ll have to make up for it the second half of the month to get to average.

A HUGE pat on the back to Arleen for nailing the winter outlook so far. She posted the following on 15 October:

“Pagosa Weather winter forecast for Pagosa and Wolf Creek is that we will have below average snow for the rest of October, November, and into December. In December, the MJO will counteract the affect of the La Nina. Wolf Creek will have good snowfall for the holidays.”

A HUGE thanks for your precip reports and pictures! Reports help verify our forecasts and make us better forecasters.

Another HUGE thanks to our donors and sponsors! You help cover the cost of this web page and our weather subscriptions, necessary to provide you accurate weather reports!

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Shawn Pro

I’ve been a “weather geek” since I was young child. I joined the military out of high school and was lucky to get my dream job in weather. I have 20 years of military weather experience which includes forecasting the weather all over the world. Highlights were six years in Alaska and making life and death weather decisions during deployments. I love mountains, I love snow, and I love summertime thunderstorms. I spend a bunch of time playing outdoors and found my paradise in Pagosa Springs. I do Pagosa Weather as a community service. Hopefully you find us helpful!
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