La Niña could spell a warmer, drier winter for the Southwest

By Alex Hager/KUNC
Published: Monday, September 12, 2022 - 7:44am

La Nina pattern
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
La Niña pattern.

Long-range weather forecasts for the Colorado River basin show a good chance of La Niña conditions this winter. That could bring less rain and snow to the Southwest.

Cold water in the Pacific Ocean is pushing towards the surface, changing weather patterns above our region for the third straight year. Typically, that means colder, wetter winters for the northwestern portion of the country, and a warmer, drier winter in the Southwest. But the dividing line falls right around Colorado.

Ben Livneh is the director of the Western Water assessment.

“By itself, it doesn't really have ... I would say not enough information simply because we have had wet La Nina years we've had dry La Nina years,” Livneh said.

Winter snow in the mountains of Colorado supplies the majority of the water in the Colorado River, which would need years of above average snowfall to escape the ongoing drought.

Science Water