Long-range Forecast Predicts Mild Northwest Winter
The primary driver for the winter outlook is the emergence of El Nino. That’s a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that tends to bring mild winters to the Pacific Northwest.
The outlook favors above normal temperatures for the entire West Coast. But with this weak El Nino, there’s not enough signal to forecast either a wetter or dry winter.
“As it is likely to be a much weaker event, the impacts downstream over North America are also likely to be less consistent, less persistent,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. “We might see a fair amount of variability this winter.”
Washington state climatologist Nick Bond added if you’re planning a ski trip over the Christmas break, “don’t cancel it now.”
His analysis is that the effects of the weak El Nino will become more apparent after New Year’s. A weak to moderate El Nino makes little difference in early winter, Bond said in an interview Monday.
Bond said the odds favor a below-normal snowpack in the mountains by the end of the winter because of elevated snow levels.
While the Climate Prediction Center said Oregon and Washington state have equal chances of above, below or normal precipitation, the deck is stacked in favor of a drier than average winter over the Northern Rockies, including northern Idaho.
“Other outcomes are always possible, just less likely,” Halpert said during a teleconference with reporters about the winter outlook.
The last winter that was impacted by El Nino was in 2015-16. It turned out to be the warmest winter on record coast-to-coast in the contiguous U.S.
“We are not anticipating a repeat of that winter as this El Nino is expected to be much weaker than that one,” Halpert said.
Several Northwest ski and snowboard resorts have expanded snowmaking systems to improve early and late season conditions. A news release issued Monday by the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association specifically mentioned 49 Degrees North, Crystal Mountain and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. The “SnoFlake Machine” added by Mt. Hood Ski Bowl was billed as an “all-weather” system which allows snowmaking above freezing temperatures.
A winter storm blanketed the Pacific Northwest with ice and snow Saturday, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power and disrupting travel across the region. Continue Reading Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power As Snow And Ice Storms Blanket The Northwest
The Northwest could see a cooler and wetter winter this season, according to climate outlook models. Forecasters say it’s likely that a recently developed La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will continue. That should lead to above average precipitation in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Continue Reading Looking Forward And Backward: A La Niña Winter And Dry Conditions That Fueled Northwest Fires
A dry cold front is expected to push into central and eastern Washington this weekend, bringing with it lots of wind from the north. That could fan the flames of fires, especially new starts that are just taking off. Winds could reach 15 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts around 40 miles per hour. Continue Reading Windy, Dry Weekend Ups Wildfire Potential, As Crews Watch How Palmer Fire Lines Will Fare