As far as Northwest skiers and snowboarders are concerned, it would be OK if they never saw La Niña’s brother.
Forecasters say El Niño might not have the energy to live up to its dry personality anyway.
While the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasted an El Niño weather system for this winter, meteorologist Johnny Burg says that forecast now calls for a weak El Niño or perhaps a neutral winter.
In La Niña winters, the Northwest tends to experience colder and wetter weather, typically meaning plenty of snow in the mountains. Back-to-back La Niñas kept skiers knee deep in powder the past two years.
During El Niño winters, temperatures are usually warmer and drier, resulting in less snow.
Burg said the current prediction of a weak El Niño means it’s almost “50-50 that winter weather will be warmer than normal.”
“Although,” Burg said, “keep in mind that long-range forecasts are not always correct.”
While this news might not be as good as a La Niña forecast, ski areas are still rejoicing.
Still, John Gifford, new president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association, is ecstatic at the prospect of a normal winter.
Gifford, former general manager of Stevens Pass, heard the news on a popular weather blog maintained by University of Washington professor Cliff Mass.
“The best part,” Gifford said, “was that he said it was OK for skiers and snowboarders to get a season pass.”
Guy Lawrence, marketing director of the Summit at Snoqualmie, couldn’t agree more.
“Essentially it looks we’re going to have a good winter,” Lawrence said, “but we’re going to have to put up with a few pineapples (stretches of warmer, rainy weather) ... It’s better than a full-strength El Niño.”