Pagosa Weather DECEMBER SUMMARY & January Outlook

Snowpack looks good for the northern half of the state while the southern half lags behind

Snowpack looks good for the northern half of the state while the southern half lags behind

Saturday – 31 Dec 2022 – 7pm

December 2022 Summary…

The average low for December is 5 and the average high is 39. The record high of 70 occurred on 3 December 1906. The record low of -35 occurred on 19 December 1909. Precip averages 1.89″ in December with 22.6″ of snow. Wolf Creek Pass averages 4.42″ of liquid equivalent and 78.7″ of snow.

How did we do?

December temps were close to average for Archuleta County
December temps were close to average for Archuleta County
December precip was below average for Archuleta County.
December precip was below average for Archuleta County.
CoCoRaHS precip reports for Dec range from 1.34" to 2.64". Most reports were below the average of 1.89".
CoCoRaHS precip reports for Dec range from 1.34″ to 2.64″. Most reports were below the average of 1.89″.
CoCoRaHS precip reports for Dec range from 4.8" to 25.9". All but one report were below the average of 22.6".
CoCoRaHS precip reports for Dec range from 4.8″ to 25.9″. All but one report were below the average of 22.6″.
Wolf Creek was nearly 20" below average for December and is 35" below average for the season. Good news: much of that 35" deficit will be erased over the next couple of days!
Wolf Creek was nearly 20″ below average for December and is 35″ below average for the season. Good news: much of that 35″ deficit will be erased over the next couple of days!

Snowpack and Drought…

Snowpack is above average for most of the western US but southern Colorado and New Mexico aren't keeping up.  This is pretty typical of a La Nina pattern.
Snowpack is above average for most of the western US but southern Colorado and New Mexico aren’t keeping up. This is pretty typical of a La Nina pattern.
Our southwest San Juan Mountain river basins are at 94%. Wolf Creek Summit is at 86% and Upper San Juan is at 92%.  Both are about 2" of snow water equivalent from average.  Good news: I'm confident we'll make that up over the next couple of days!
Our southwest San Juan Mountain river basins are at 94%. Wolf Creek Summit is at 86% and Upper San Juan is at 92%. Both are about 2″ of snow water equivalent below average. Good news: I’m confident we’ll make that up over the next couple of days!
Drought conditions are minimal across most of western Colorado.  There has been very little change in the last month.
Drought conditions are minimal across most of western Colorado. There has been very little change in the last month.

January Outlook…

The average low for January is 2 and the average high is 37. The record high of 59 occurred on 1 January 1981. The record low of -42 occurred on 13 January 1963. Precip averages 2.08″ in January with 30.4″ of snow – our snowiest month. Wolf Creek Pass averages 3.67″ of liquid equivalent and 76.1″ of snow.

The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for January on the left indicates "equal chances" for temps near average. The precip outlook on the right indicates "equal chances" for near average precip.
The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for January on the left indicates “equal chances” for temps near average.
The precip outlook on the right indicates “equal chances” for near average precip.
On the left, the Euro ensemble precip indicates 3.55″. On the right, the GFS ensemble indicates 4.29″. Both are above the average of 2.08″.
On the left, the Euro ensemble precip indicates 3.55″. On the right, the GFS ensemble indicates 4.29″. Both are above the average of 2.08″.

And what do we expect?

Arleen is the expert and this is what she thinks…

The MJO is moderate and in zone 7 and will remain that way for the next 3 days before moving out of the area. MJO in that sector is enough to negate impact of La Niña and enhance storms. The MJO could visit again in 30 days. The Arctic Oscillation is positive and strengthening. There is potential for an outbreak later in the month but very hard to forecast. The ENSO is still in La Niña phase. However, the waters in the coastal area are warming significantly giving confidence to the forecast that the ENSO will transition to Neutral in the next month. As it transitions, weather systems will move through our area on a regular basis. January will start out active, transition to a few dry weeks and then we’ll have a few systems at the end of the month. We should see about average snowfall for the month of January.

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!

And if you’re curious about us, check out this excellent video by Matt Martin. We are humbled and honored that he used his talent and time to spotlight Pagosa Weather!

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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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