Following the last winter’s dry conditions, Durango residents are eager to accept any chance of snow in the upcoming season. Many hope for an El Nino weather pattern to aid in rectifying the recent drought, but is there a chance of it occurring?
“El Nino is a weather pattern that affects North America and beyond, that is based upon the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean,” said Andrew Gleason, a meteorologist at Fort Lewis College. But how this works is amazing.
“Upwelling cold water affects the temperature in the middle of the ocean,” says Andrew, “The less upwelling, the warmer the ocean. With a warmer ocean, more storms can produce, traveling to the North American continent, to then produce rain and snow.”
El Nino conditions are brewing in the Pacific Ocean this year, which could create massive winter storms. These storms would make it possible for an epic 2018-2019 winter ski season. For most of the students, teachers,and population of Durango, it would greatly increase attitudes towards winter sports.
“We need a good year,” said Eric Skaggs, a DHS Biology and Chemistry teacher “It’s good for recreation and farming, as well as preventing fires.”
The affect an El Nino would have on the fire season is obvious. Last year’s dry winter had many consequences, most notably the 416 Fire. On the other hand, a very wet and snowy winter caused by an an El Nino would drastically reduce the chances of a fire.
A good snow year would benefit the economy as well. It would create more moisture making it safer for the Durango-Silverton Railroad to run, as well as giving local rafting companies and guides more opportunities for business.
“According to NOAA there is a 50 percent chance of an El Nino year, and 65 percent chance of conditions,” said Gleason. We as students then need to hope that storms would produce throughout the Pacific Ocean this winter.
Even if all of these scenarios occur, it is still not a guarantee of a good snow year. If an El Nino occurs this winter, it’ll have been the first since 2013.
Why should we as students and residents of Durango care about all of this?From a scientific view, it would help prevent fires, but for the townsfolk and students, it would make for a really great winter.
Also, it is important to be caught up on current events in the area. “We want to be aware of what is going on around us,” said Skaggs.
El Nino would have a very positive impact on Durango and will drastically improve environment conditions as well as help with tourism in the winter and summer months. But for now, all we can hope for is a good El Nino year that makes for a safe summer and greater ski season.