Drought conditions in the Chaffee County area are not likely to abate any time soon, as climatologists at the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration have predicted a return of La Niña for the second winter in a row.

In the Northern Hemisphere, La Niña usually means warmer temperatures and drier conditions than normal, especially in the southern half of the United States.

John Gottschlack, chief of the optimal prediction branch of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a press release, “The Southwest will certainly remain a region of concern as we anticipate below-normal precipitation where drought conditions continue in most areas.”

The National Drought Mitigation Center at University of Nebraska- Lincoln considers Chaffee County to be experiencing moderate drought conditions.

The U.S. seasonal drought outlook predicts persisting drought conditions throughout most of Colorado, including Chaffee County.

Current long-range models show a 33-40 percent probability that temperatures in Central Colorado will be above normal through February.

Precipitation is predicted to have an equal chance to be above or below normal during the same time period.

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