Expected El Niño indicates snowier winter, potentially colder weather

Haleigh McGill

With winter just around the corner, students are talking about the amount of snow they want to see and the amount of snow that is actually expected.

Jennifer Stark, meteorologist at Pueblo National Weather Service said to anticipate a snowier winter but not necessarily a colder one.


“As far as colder weather, it’s hard to say … One of the things that is going to be a factor this year is we’re expecting to have a moderate El Niño occur,” Stark said.

Wintertime El Nino pattern. (Photo credit: NOAA Climate Website)
Wintertime El Nino pattern. (Photo credit: NOAA Climate Website)

According to NOAA’s climate website, a moderate El Niño is an “episode when the peak Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is greater than or equal to 1.0°C and less than or equal to 1.4°C.”

Stark said that this is an indicator of a snowier winter season, and expects to see “some pretty good snow.”

In regards to colder weather, a recent article from the Denver Post reported that Denver reached two record-breaking low temperatures this November. Whether or not this is a precedent for the winter months remains to be seen.

For students who enjoy skiing, snowboarding or observing the snow from indoors with a cup of hot chocolate, the expected moderate El Niño is good news. CSU freshman Andrew Brownson said he is skeptical about this weather prediction but optimistic about the snow potential.

“I love a snowy winter … I’d like to hope that it will be an El Niño winter, but they say that a lot,” Brownson said.

On the other hand, some students are less than excited about this weather prediction. Ethan Liem, senior journalism and liberal arts double major, says that his ideal winter would be cold weather without snow.

“I don’t enjoy the snow that much … As a kid, it’s fun … When you grow up, snow days mean the roads are going to be bad,” Liem said. “I love Colorado’s weather, but the two or so months of actual snow are the worst.”

Stark reminds those who are expecting a colder winter than usual, or those who hope for minimal snow, of the basic nature of Colorado winters. Cold temperatures and a fair share of snow can be expected every year.

Collegian reporter Haleigh McGill can be reached at news@collegian.com, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.