A snowboarder, silhouetted by the setting sun, kicks up a wake of snowy mist, at Winter Park alpine resort, in Colorado, in December 2012. 

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

NOAA dropped the first wave of weather data that could predict Colorado's skiing and snowboarding season, and all eyes are on El Niño. The summertime warming of the Pacific Ocean is a major influence on the North American winter forecast. Right now, signs point to a weak to moderate El Niño and wet weather in the Southwestern United States, including Colorado. Wetter weather could mean more snow.

However, meteorologist and co-creator of Open Snow Joel Gratz is worried NOAA may be too optimistic. Gratz talked to Colorado Matters about why the forecast is still too far out to be a sure deal. Wet and snowy weather could hit the western states months from now, but miss most of Colorado by tens or even hundreds of miles.