Pagosa Weather FEBRUARY SUMMARY and March outlook

Snow has come in spurts this winter but is currently close to average

Snow has come in spurts this winter but is currently close to average

Wednesday – 2 Mar 2022 – 7:15am

February 2022 Summary…

The average low for February is 9 and the average high is 42. The record high of 60 occurred on 27 Feb 1988. The record low of -39 occurred on 1 Feb 1916. February precip averages 2.02″ with 23.1″ of snow. Wolf Creek averages 68.7″ of snow in February and 304.7″ to this point in the season.

How did we do? Check out these charts…

February temperature departure from average in February was slightly above average across the northern part of the county while the rest of the county was below average.
February temperature departure from average was slightly above average across the northern part of the county while the rest of the county was below average. Most of the state was below average.
February precip departure from average in February was 25-50% below average across the southern part of the county while it 50-70% below average in the northern part of the county.
February precip departure from average was 25-50% below average across the southern part of the county and 50-70% below average in the northern part of the county.
This is Quantitative Precipitation Estimates (QPE) which uses multiple sources to estimate precip. It’s not perfect but it’s helpful in data sparse areas like ours.
This is Quantitative Precipitation Estimates (QPE) which uses multiple sources to estimate precip. It’s not perfect but it’s helpful in data sparse areas like ours. Note that it doesn’t line up well with the CoCoRAHS reports below.
CoCoRaHS January liquid equivalent (LE) totals range from 1.06″ to 1.48″ – below the average of 2.02″. A CoCoRaHS observer in town would be very helpful to us, the National Weather Service, and many other agencies!
CoCoRaHS February liquid equivalent (LE) totals range from 1.06″ to 1.48″ – below the average of 2.02″. A CoCoRaHS observer in town would be very helpful to us, the National Weather Service, and many other agencies!
CoCoRaHS January snowfall totals range from 12.9″ to 26″ – mostly below the average of 23.1″. A CoCoRaHS observer in town would be very helpful to us, the National Weather Service, and many other agencies!
CoCoRaHS February snowfall totals range from 12.9″ to 26″ – mostly below the average of 23.1″. A CoCoRaHS observer in town would be very helpful to us, the National Weather Service, and many other agencies!

Snowpack update…

Wolf Creek got 84" in February - above their average of 68.7".  51" occurred in a 3-day period! So far this season, they got 308", just 4" above the average to this point.
Wolf Creek got 84″ in February – above their average of 68.7″ – 51″ occurred in a 3-day period! So far this season, they got 308″, just 4″ above the average to this point.
Snowpack across much of the western US is below average
Snowpack across much of the western US is below average
Detailed snowpack data for our nearby basins on 28 Feb 2022 – The Upper San Juan snotel is at 97% and the Wolf Creek Summit snotel is at 126%.
Detailed snowpack data for our nearby basins on 28 Feb 2022 – The Upper San Juan snotel is at 97% and the Wolf Creek Summit snotel is at 126%.

Drought and River flow update…

As of 22 Feb drought over most of Archuleta County is rated "moderate" but the southwest corner is rated "severe".  To this point in February there was no change for the month, however... This data only includes the first day of our 3-day storm cycle.  The next drought map on 3 Mar will include the rest and might show a slight improvement in some areas.
As of 22 Feb drought over most of Archuleta County is rated “moderate” but the southwest corner is rated “severe”. To this point in February there was no change for the month, however… This data only includes the first day of our 3-day storm cycle. The next drought map on 3 Mar will include the rest and might show a slight improvement in some areas.
San Juan River flow stayed fairly close to the Median in February.  We're going to start seeing more fluctuation between warm days and cold days.
San Juan River flow stayed fairly close to the Median in February. We’re going to start seeing more fluctuation between warm days and cold days.

March 2022 outlook…

The average low for March is 15 and the average high is 49. The record high of 73 occurred on 19 Mar 1907. The record low of -25 occurred on 1 Mar 1913. March precip averages 1.77″ with 19.5″ of snow. Wolf Creek averages 75.8″ of snow in March and 380.5″ to this point in the season.

And here’s the outlook…

The CPC temperature outlook for March expects "equal chances" for average temps.
The CPC temperature outlook for March expects “equal chances” for average temps.
The CPC precipitation outlook for March shows us borderline between "equal chances" to "leaning below" average precip.
The CPC precipitation outlook for March shows us borderline between “equal chances” to “leaning below” average precip.
This is the Euro 500mb 7-day height anomaly from 1 Mar to 1 Apr – Each chart is 1 day but shows a 7-day average. 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.  

The pattern is active the first half of the month and then storm track shifts to our north.  Towards the end of the month the pattern is neutral. I'll take a neutral pattern that gives me some hope over an inactive pattern with no hope any day!
This is the Euro 500mb 7-day height anomaly from 1 Mar to 1 AprEach chart is 1 day but shows a 7-day average. 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.

The pattern is active the first half of the month and then storm track shifts to our north. Towards the end of the month the pattern is neutral. I’ll take a neutral pattern that gives me some hope over an inactive pattern with no hope any day!

And what do we expect?

Well Arleen is the expert and this is what she says…

The first few days of March will be quiet due to the influence of La Nina. However, the equatorial waters are continuing to warm though still colder than average. That points to the weakening of the La Nina – good news for us. It means the equatorial region could be more active which would help the polar front jet move further south.  When this happens, more active patterns can move over us.   As we begin to move into a neutral ENSO state, we can expect a more active second and fourth week of March. Unfortunately, the MJO remains weak and the most active stage is hiding out in the Indian Ocean.  Still hoping to see it strengthen and move into stage 7 by the last week of March. There are also areas of arctic air associated with the polar oscillation.  As that cold air moves southeast in the second week in March, it should help destabilize our atmosphere and help with snow production.  So I expect an active second and fourth week of March resulting in average precipitation and snow for March.

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

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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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