ASPEN - While the experts at the National Weather Service ponder whether La Nina will affect Colorado this winter, the Old Farmer's Almanac is boldly forging ahead with forecasts for the season. Unfortunately, it might not be the forecast local skiers and riders want.
The venerable publication, founded in 1792, foresees a mild and dry winter for all of Colorado as well as most of the country's midsection. The northeast will have a cold and snowy winter, the almanac states, and the northern Rocky Mountain states and part of the Pacific Northwest will have a mild and snowy winter.
"We expect that the winter of 2011-12 will not have a strong El Nino or La Nina," the Old Farmer's Almanac said in its recent edition.
The publication places Colorado in the south end of the intermountain region for purposes of forecasting. Here's the outlook for the winter for the region: "Winter temperatures will be above normal, especially in the south, with the coldest periods in early and late December and mid- and late February. Precipitation and snowfall will be above normal in the north and below normal in the south. The snowiest periods will occur in early November, mid-December, mid-January and early and late March."
Remember how winter hung on this year and wouldn't yield to spring? Expect that to be the case again, the Old Farmer's Almanac stated. April and May "will be much cooler and snowier than normal," it stated.
Some possible dates to circle: The almanac is forecasting rain, then heavy snow for the Colorado section of the intermountain region on Jan. 13-18 and heavy snow March 22-25.
The Old Farmer's Almanac forecasted mild and dry conditions for all of Colorado last winter as well, with mixed results. The southern half of the state was mild though not necessarily dry. There was ample snowfall above 8,000 feet for much of the winter, and it kept snowing into April and May.
La Nina conditions created a wet winter in the northern half of Colorado last year.
Unlike the Old Farmer's Almanac, the National Weather Service believes La Nina might affect Colorado again this winter. In a Sept. 8 statement, the weather service's Climate Prediction Center said temperature and precipitation impacts associated with La Nina are likely to "generally strengthen" in late fall and winter. At this point, the Climate Prediction Center's long-range maps still show equal chances for below or above precipitation through the winter for Colorado.