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NWS/NOAA December 2017 Weather &Climate Summary

I'm fond of sharing the following with students,

"94.3 % of statistics are made up on the spot- Realize 85% of avalanche safety is rooted in your understanding of the weather, that's winter's story and the individual chapters found within that tale"

For me, weather is paramount. Trends over time are what we look for...Following the story daily is invaluable. It's my personal goal to never miss a day. The weather is the first thing I interface with each morning, it's the last bit of data I try to check before bed.

I've shared my daily, go to weather resources before:


CAIC for Daily Avalanche Bulletin, Hazard Rating and Backcountry Forecasts

REMOTE WEATHER STATIONS for real time, 12/24hr and Hx data from remote sites where I work and play.

CDOT I use CO trip for road and weather updates and to view camera footage of conditions on the passes

Intellicast - great radar

But there's also additional info that helps me summarize the story real time!

At the end of each month, NOAA/NWS will release a weather and climate synopsis and that's a very valuable report to review. Below is the December 2017 recap-

December 2017 was generally a mild and quiet month, though the end of the month saw the return of some active weather to eastern Utah and western Colorado. At the beginning of the month a strong cold front associated with an upper level disturbance brought some gusty winds to much of the region as well as some snowfall to the northern and central mountains. Behind this system, the benign weather that lingered for much of the month began as a strong and persistent ridge of high pressure amplified over the entire western United States. This kept conditions abnormally dry and mild as it deflected any major storms way to our north. Several weak disturbances attempted to make it through the ridge, but most became starved of any significant moisture and just produced some increased clouds.

Thankfully, the ridge shifted towards the latter half of December which allowed two decent storms to move through the region right around Christmas and bring some much needed precipitation. On December 22nd, snowfall bands associated with a strong and cold disturbance allowed Moab, Utah to experience its third snowiest day on record with snowfall accumulations ranging from 5 inches to almost a foot. Another system moved into the area on Christmas Eve and continuing into the 26th and produced snowfall amounts in excess of a foot in several mountain areas.

As a result of the prolonged influence under the ridge of high pressure, below normal precipitation dominated much of the region. From the data just collected from our automated stations at 10 different airports across eastern Utah and western Colorado, every single site ended the month with below normal precipitation. The most noticeable deficit was at the Cortez Airport which only received a trace of precipitation throughout the entire month. Both the Durango and Aspen airports were over an inch below normal for December. Temperatures were also well above normal with mean temperatures generally ranging from 3 to 8 degrees above normal for the month. The highest reported temperature during the month from those 10 airport stations was 65 degrees which occurred at the Canyonlands Airport on December 3rd. The coldest temperature of -14 degrees was measured at the Craig Airport on December 24th. Numerous record high temperatures were either set or tied throughout the month across eastern Utah and western Colorado based on information from various cooperative observers.

Grand Junction had an average monthly temperature of 31.5 degrees which was 3.0 degrees above normal. The highest temperature was 60 degrees on December 2nd and 3rd and the lowest was 10 on the 22nd and 24th. One record high temperature was set during the month on December 2nd. Only 0.04 inches of precipitation fell which was 0.55 inches below normal for the month.

Taking a quick look ahead to January, the official forecast from the Climate Prediction Center ( shows a shift of odds towards warmer temperatures continuing across eastern Utah and western Colorado. There are no clear climate signatures favoring either drier or wetter conditions at this time.

You can find the report and summary at the following link:

* Be sure to click on both the Outlook and December Summary Tabs

*** And here's November's video if you missed last month's recap:

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