There is a small chance for a white Christmas in Cortez, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Norv Larson said models indicate a 20 percent possibility for snowfall late in the day and evening on Dec. 25.
“There is a slight chance, and further north (the chance) increases a bit,” he said.
El Niño, the weather phenomenon that causes winter storms to track more toward the Four Corners, is setting up, Larson said, but has not fully developed.
Currently, there is a 90 percent chance it will occur and last through winter based on an increase in average temperatures on the Equatorial Pacific. But although the sea temperatures meet El Niño criteria, the atmosphere and weather pattern have not yet responded.
Also, the winter solstice, the official first day of winter and the shortest day of the year, is Friday, Dec. 21.
There are many Christmas services scheduled in Cortez.
On Dec. 23, there will Christmas service at the Lifeway Baptist Church, 601 N. Dolores Road, at 10:45 a.m.
On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, there will be services at: Trinity Lutheran Church, 208 N. Dolores Road, at 7 p.m.; St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, corner of North and Elm streets, with carols at 6:30 p.m. and service at 7 p.m.; Lifeway Baptist Church, 601 N. Dolores Road at 6 p.m.; and First United Methodist Church, 515 Park St., beginning at 7 p.m. There will be carol singing, storytelling and guest musicians from the Grand Junction Symphony will perform. All are invited.
The town of Bluff, Utah, celebrates the winter solstice every year with the burning of a large sculpture created by artist Joe Pachak and volunteers. This year, it will be a 25-foot tall coyote created out of cottonwood and willows.
The ritual begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 across from the Recapture Lodge and K&C Convenience Store in downtown Bluff. The solstice burn begins by locals throwing burning atlatls at the sculpture.
Communities and cultures across the world have celebrated solstice since time immemorial, said Amanda Nichols of bluffutah.org, and Bluff has been honoring the point in time for many years.
“We gather on this cold, dark night to light the coyote sculpture on fire as a community and embrace the coming warmth of longer days,” she says. “Please join us for this free, public event.”