The map above shows the amount of snow measured so far in 2010. Most locations have received less than an inch, although McDonald, Kansas has reported 2.6 inches. These amounts are much below normal, as shown on the map below.
Normal snowfall amounts through mid December generally range from 8 to 9 inches in McCook and Hill city to 12 inches in eastern Colorado. Given little to no snowfall so far this season, the deficits are about the same as the normals in most locations.
The dry pattern is typical of La Niña Winters in the central High Plains. Abnormally cool waters in the Pacific Ocean alter the jet stream pattern which in turn determines the track of Winter storms. The northern High Plains has received the bulk of the snow so far this year, again consistent with La Niña Winters.
Nearly all models indicate that La Niña will peak during the Northern Hemisphere Winter 2010-11 followed by a gradual return to neutral conditions in the Summer of 2011. For the local area, this means below normal precipitation is likely to continue into the Spring of 2011 with a gradual return to normal precipitation amounts in the Summer of 2011.
The latest Seasonal Drought Outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center indicates the moderate drought conditions that currently exist along the Arkansas River basin and Colorado Front Range will spread into the Tri State area by February 2011.