National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters predict another La Niña winter, which could mean cold, wet weather here — but last year’s rainfall was unusual.
Remember last winter?
The government’s top forecasters Thursday predicted another La Niña winter this year, which typically means colder temperatures and wetter-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest.
That prediction is based on sea-surface temperature trends in the Pacific Ocean.
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“Conditions across the tropical Pacific are very similar to those observed last year,” said Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, in a conference call with journalists. “Temperature and precipitation outlooks are somewhat reminiscent of forecasts we issued last year.”
But don’t fret — a La Niña trend is not assured.
Forecasters give it a 55 to 65 percent chance of developing before winter sets in, according to NOAA. It will likely be a weak La Niña, Halpert said.
Plus, forecasts are built on probabilities. Weather, of course, varies. Last year, it varied between downpour and drenching, which was rather extreme.
“Even though it’s La Niña, it doesn’t mean we’ll get something like last year,” said Ni Cushmeer, a meteorologist at Seattle’s National Weather Service’s office. “That one set a new standard for precipitation. That would be a whole lot of rain.”
When it comes to precipitation, NOAA’s outlook actually gives Seattle an equal chance of having a wet or dry winter (Central and Eastern Washington lean wet in NOAA models). Temperature predictions predict a chill for the entire region.
That’s good news for people planning to play in the Cascades, Cushmeer said.
“If you’re a skier you’ll be happy, because the mountains tend to get a lot of snow,” she said.