Forecast: Hope for snow lovers

Decorations have been hung on lampposts and lights now adorn trees throughout town, but one thing is missing from the holiday decorations so far this season — snow.

Pagosa Springs and the surrounding area has seen only a skiff of snow fall on a few occasions, and Wolf Creek Ski Area was reporting only 45 inches year-to-date as of early Wednesday afternoon.

Forecasts, however, are showing chances of above-average precipitation levels over the coming months.

For the next several days, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) and National Weather Service’s (NWS) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows above-normal temperatures for much of the country, with normal precipitation expected in southwestern Colorado.

Indeed, the NWS forecast for Pagosa Springs shows a 30-percent chance of rain today, with mostly cloudy skies and a high near 46, with that 30-percent chance extending into Thursday night with rain predicted before 11 p.m., then rain and snow.

Too, a statement from the NWS indicates that high pressure will build back over the region on Friday, with another disturbance bringing a chance of precipitation Saturday and Saturday night. Snow levels are expected to remain high, however, due to the above-seasonal temperatures.

More specifically, Friday’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 50 as the high pressure moves in, with Saturday’s disturbance bringing a 20-percent chance of rain and snow and a high near 48.

The forecasts for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are all alike — mostly sunny with a high near 48.

The weather on Wolf Creek Pass looks to be a bit wetter, with a 50-percent chance of rain and snow today and a 10-percent chance for snow tonight. The high is estimated to be around 37.

Friday, the pass looks to see mostly sunny skies and 36 degrees before this weekend’s disturbance moves in.

Saturday, the NWS is calling for a 40-percent chance of rain and snow and 33 degrees, with a 40-percent chance of snow Saturday night.

Sunday and Monday return to a forecast of mostly sunny skies and 33 degrees, while Tuesday’s forecast shows a slight chance of rain and snow.

Longer-term outlooks for the area also look promising for additional snow and moisture.

An 8-14 day outlook by the CPC shows a 33- to 40-percent probability of above-average precipitation levels for much of Colorado, though that is paired with a 70- to 80-percent chance of above-average temperatures.

A one-month outlook continues to show above-average temperatures and chances for precipitation for southwest Colorado to be slightly above normal.

A longer-term, three-month CPC forecast shows that temperatures have “equal chances” of being either above normal, normal or below normal.

In terms of precipitation, the three-month forecast shows Archuleta County at the northern edge of the portion of the country likely to get above-average precipitation amounts.

Historically, Pagosa Springs receives more than a quarter of its annual snowfall in January, with the Western Regional Climate Center reporting that Pagosa receives an average of 30.5 inches of snowfall in January.

Throughout the year, Pagosa Springs averages 116.4 inches of snow, compared to Wolf Creek’s 450-plus inches on average.

According to that historical data, which spans from 1906 to 1998, December is the second-snowiest month for Pagosa Springs, with an average of 22.5 inches, followed by February’s 21.5 inches, March’s 19.2 inches and November’s 11.3 inches on average. Four other months show average snowfalls of less than 6 inches.

Temperature-wise, Pagosa Springs’ average temperature for December is 39.5 degrees, with that average dropping to 37.4 in January and rising to 42 in February.