River Beat: The Myth of a Busted La Niña Forecast

There’s a myth that has firmly taken hold of a busted La Niña forecast on the Colorado River this year. It shows up this morning in a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial.


This issue came up last September, as we were heading into the La Niña season. It was a common misapprehension back then, and it seems to have stuck. Here’s the reality, as I wrote back then, based on conversations with the folks at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center – the ones who actually do the forecasting:

La Niña’s strongest effect is found in the southern part of the basin, while most of the Colorado River’s water comes from the northern part of the basin.

There’s almost zero correlation between La Niña/El Niño and Colorado River runoff. There may have been people saying they expected a dry year on the river, but it wasn’t the actual forecasters.

updated with an, umm, minor edit

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