Joe Ramey is a retired National Weather Service meteorologist/forecaster and is currently skiing on Grand Mesa waiting for a call from Hollywood to provide weather insights from Mountain Weather Masters.
The year 2018 came in drier and warmer than normal. Looking at the ten automated sites across western Colorado and eastern Utah (attached spreadsheet), the mean average temperature was more than 3 degrees F above normal for the year. This was especially true in the max temperatures (Tx) but the overnight lows (Tn) were also above normal at all sites. The year was especially dry with only the fall season (Sep-Oct-Nov) producing near normal precipitation.
December 2018 followed the general trend of the year being warmer and drier than normal. Still this December produced some good snowfall favoring the northern and central mountains. There have been a good few storms, especially December 27-28, through Arizona and New Mexico that have tempered the drought there. Otherwise, these El Nino-style storms have not helped the Four Corners region as much as hoped. Storms for the next week are forecasted to follow the El Nino track through the Desert SW.
We are not yet officially in an El Nino but the equatorial eastern Pacific is quite warm and the atmosphere is responding, again with a favored storm track through the Desert SW.
The CPC outlook, attached, shows this storm track for January and the Jan-Feb-Mar season across the southern tier of states. Warmer than normal is the best forecast for all the West including Colorado. Looking back at the climate record, El Ninos also tend to produce a wetter than normal spring season.
Happy New Year!