Do people read too much into La-Nina/El-Nino patterns?
I ask because:
1. In Colorado, El Nino tends to hit SW Colorado hard, Front Range (Eldora) hard, but I-70 and Northern tends to be drier. La Nina the opposite.
2. 2010-2011 was La Nina and pretty damned good for most places, especially Utah and I-70 Colorado (generally as expected for weather pattern).
3. Then, 2011-2012 was La Nina and one of the worst years on record for most of the same places that got the 2010-2011 goods (not following generally expected weather pattern, but after the season went to shit several forecasters that were cheerleading the early season as being a repeat of 2010-2011 due to La Nina suddenly changed to talking about how 2 La Nina seasons in a row are low snow years- not really sure how to interpret that as they pretended this was common knowledge after the fact when it clearly was not what they were saying at the outset).
4. Then 2012-2013 started weak El Nino, then neutral, and most of the season was terrible (in snowpack terms) for all of Colorado. I-70 and Northern got a reprieve at the twilight of the last season, getting far more than normal snow April-May. Meanwhile, the San Juans (SW Colorado got much less snow than normal during the season, and snowpack went down to 5% of average for late May- so little snowfall that several reservoirs in the area did not even fill to the level of the boat ramp during runoff. Further, during the early season that showed a weak El Nino pattern, SW Colorado didn't get snow- Purgatory had to push a Thanksgiving week opening back to Christmas, Wolf Creek pushed a first week in November opening back to Thanksgiving and officially stayed open form then on, but in reality had conditions so poor that most areas would have closed (not enough snow to groom, mandatory base damage style skiing on all runs, etc.) (not seeming to follow the weather pattern).
So what gives? It seems to me there is a bit of confirmation bias- if we get big storms in an El Nino or La Nina year everybody is quick to attribute the snowfall to these patterns, but when the snow doesn't come, we seem to ignore the whole deal. I'm not saying the temp of the water in the Pacific doesn't impact weather, I'm just not sold that it really drives as much as conventional wisdom seems to think.