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NOAA Climate Prediction: Columbia Basin States Looking At Cold, Wet Winter
Posted on Friday, December 16, 2016 (PST)

The 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.

 

NOAA and its Climate Prediction Center hosted a teleconference briefing Thursday on recent weather conditions along with a three-month weather outlook.

 

The 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.

 

That 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.

 

Deke 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.

 

Arndt also noted that Washington had its wettest autumn on record, while the other Columbia Basin states also had large areas with “much above average” precipitation.

 

Brad 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.

 

The 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.

 

Forecasters 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.

 

El 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

Colorado.

 

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