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Tuesday morning flurry brings 2 inches of snow to Purgatory Resort

Forecast shows signs of more moisture later this week
Purgatory Resort received about 2 inches of snow during a storm Monday night and Tuesday morning. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Durango received a half inch of snow during a storm that began late Monday and lasted through Tuesday morning.

The storm brought about 2 inches near Purgatory Resort and 6 inches near Molas and Coal Bank passes as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. Cortez received close to an inch of snow Tuesday morning between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

La Plata County could receive more snow Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kris Sanders.

“As we get into Friday, there’s sort of another system of similar strength moving through, and there might be a little bit more moisture associated with that storm,” he said.

There is a chance the storms could carry into early next week, but Sanders said it is hard to predict what might happen in the next seven days. The National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on storms for signs of moisture.

Sanders said there are signs of an active period for winter storms over the next two weeks.

“The strength of that next system looks to be a little bit more potent as far as moisture is concerned,” he said. “So we could see higher numbers, but that’s pretty far out and hard to say at this point.”

Meteorologists predict winter storm precipitation based on the strength of the storm system. The strength of storm systems is often affiliated with lower pressure.

Sanders said it is hard to tell how much snow Durango and its surrounding areas will receive this year. He said there is an equal possibility that Durango will receive below-average snowfall as it will receive above-average snowfall.

As the Four Corners heads into another La Niña winter, it could be relatively dry until late winter.

La Niña is the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Tropical rainfall patterns from Indonesia to the west coast of South America are impacted by changes in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean. These changes affect weather patterns throughout the world.

Typically, the southern parts of the United States experience dry weather during the early parts of the winter as a result.

However, Sanders said one large storm could better the chances for more snow early in the winter season.

“If that area gets one really big storm or a series of storms with one big low-pressure system moving from the West Coast with a strong atmospheric river, you could see the amount of precipitation really increased during those periods,” he said.

The NWS Climate Prediction Center three-month outlook indicates that precipitation numbers will lean toward below-average in December and January while having equal chances of being above- or below-average during February and March.

Despite an above-average summer for moisture in Durango, the Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook still shows La Plata County in a drought but with improving conditions.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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