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With Shift Towards El Niño Weather Pattern, the Western Snowpack Is Looking Good

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After a very white Christmas throughout the west, it's time to check in on the snowpack. And to the delight of skiers and snowboarders everywhere (well, maybe not those on the East Coast), the western snowpack is looking good. In today's post, we break down what the snowpack looks like at the moment and what skiers can expect as we head into what meteorologist Joel Gratz is calling a more "typical El Niño-influenced" weather pattern.

More on El Niño:
What Do You Need to Know About El Niño? These 10 Things.
Was El Niño the Cause of California's Latest Round of Snow?
There's a 90 Percent Chance We're Getting a Strong El Niño
Watch the Enormous El Niño Growing in the Pacific Right Now

The map above shows the snow water equivalent as a percentage of normal. To simplify things a little bit, skiers and snowboarders are looking for blue. Green isn't too bad either, as it means that the region's snowpack is about average. You can see that after many feet of snow the past two weeks, Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, and much of Idaho are all sitting on above-average snowpacks. Utah has also really benefitted from the recent storms, although some of the state's SNOTEL sites are not currently reporting.

This year's record-breaking El Niño should really get going in January, and like clockwork the weather pattern is shifting away from consistent storms in the west and towards a typical El Niño forecast. Here's what the precipitation forecast through January 10 looks like, according to NOAA:

As you can see, the highest chances for above-average precipitation are in southern California, Arizona, and parts of southern Utah and Colorado. This doesn't mean that the Pacific Northwest will get completely skunked, it just means that the likelihood of a big storm is diminished. Right now, get out there and enjoy the snow!

· National Weather and Climate Center [Official Site]
· ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions [NOAA]