Columbia River basin states are in for a cold and wet winter as a result of
continuing influences from the La Nina weather pattern that builds off colder
than normal water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
and its Climate Prediction Center hosted a teleconference briefing Thursday on
recent weather conditions along with a three-month weather outlook.
Columbia Basin stands out on both counts. The January through March forecast
calls for below or well-below average temperature in the northern portions of
Washington, Idaho and Montana, along with above-average precipitation across
all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
forecast comes on the heels of one of the warmest autumns on record for the
contiguous United States, with temperatures that were 4.1 degrees above the
20th century average. November punctuated the fall with record high
temperatures in many parts of the country.
Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for NOAA’s Centers for Environmental
Information, said Idaho had a record November for warmer-than-average
temperatures, while there were record high temperatures in in parts of western
Montana, Washington and Oregon.
also noted that Washington had its wettest autumn on record, while the other
Columbia Basin states also had large areas with “much above average”
Pugh, a meteorologist and season forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center,
said the forecast for the coming winter months comes with probabilities that
are “very modest” because it is difficult to project how quickly the La Nina
weather pattern will dissipate.
consensus among forecasters is that La Nina has already started to weaken but
will persist through the winter, and it will be followed by “neutral”
influences through the summer.
will be watching for signs of an El Nino pattern emerging. For the Northwest,
El Nino can lead to opposite conditions of warmer and drier weather.
Nino and La Nina are known to be powerful influences on Pacific Northwest, as
well as southwestern states with different results, but little or no influence
on states in between, such as