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A chilly La Niña winter is likely, but don’t fret about another drenching

Forecasters are predicting another La Niña winter this year, which typically means colder weather and wetter-than-normal conditions.
Forecasters are predicting another La Niña winter this year, which typically means colder weather and wetter-than-normal conditions. dean.koepfler@thenewstribune.com

Remember last winter?

The wet that wouldn’t quit. Thunder snow. Precipitation records that fell like rain.

The government’s top forecasters are predicting another La Niña winter this year, which typically means colder weather and wetter-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

That prediction is based on sea-surface temperature trends in the Pacific Ocean.

“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’s Climate Prediction Center. “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. It will likely be a weak La Niña, Halpert said.

Plus, forecasts are built on probabilities. Weather 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 gives the Seattle area an equal chance of having a wet or dry winter. 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.

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