La Niña Impacts Colorado Weather


Winter is almost here, but this season will bring less snow to Boulder. That is because La Niña is in full swing.

A weather event that follows El Niño, La Niña produces cooler temperatures by changing the position of the winter jet stream that sweeps our globe. This determines where the heaviest snow will fall and where temperatures will drop. Here in Boulder, we are seeing temperatures in the single digits.

This is a NOAA provided map of the impacts of La Nina during the months of December through February.

Impacts of La Nina during the months of December through February via NOAA.

Jeff Weber, an atmospheric scientist at UCAR, explains why Boulder isn’t going to get as much snow.

“We have to have the wind pushing up from the East, pushing the moisture up into the mountains.” Says Weber. “This La Niña pattern does not generally favor that kind of system. Generally what happens in a La Niña is the lows travel to the north of us and we get these little clips of short waves hitting our mountains.”

In more simple terms, La Niña will bring most of the snow to places like Aspen, Vail, and Steamboat. Boulder does not have that big up slope component, so we will see below average snowfall here.


La Nina will bring cold temperatures to Colorado via NOAA.

Even though Boulder is predicted to have less snow, La Niña’s cold temperatures can still create dangerous conditions. Klaus Wolter, who is part of NOAA’s Climate Scene Investigation team, predicts that La Niña will bring more windstorms to Boulder.

“Specifically in Boulder, the risk of a windstorm is much higher.” Says Klaus. “This brings in these cold snaps, so today is going to be colder than any day we had last winter. It is normal for you to get these sub-zero colds with a La Niña.”

Klaus recommends that Coloradans should invest in some warm winter attire, and to not be alarmed when your heating bill is higher than last year.

For those that hate the cold weather, NOAA predicts that this La Niña will not be a large, long lasting event compared to previous La Niñas.