La Nina Winter Could Bring Big Snow to Pacific Northwest

August 16, 2010; 9:10 AM
Share |
A light blanket of snow covers the Crystal Mountain ski area in Washington. Thanks to a La Nina weather pattern, ski resorts are anticipating significant snowfall for the 2010-2011 season. (AP Photo/Roy Goodall)

The Pacific Northwest had a less-than-stellar winter in terms of skiing last year as seen in the Vancouver Olympics.

A La Nina weather pattern this year, however, could mean stormier weather for the 2010-2011 season.

It can be difficult to forecast just how much more moisture a wetter-than-normal winter will bring, Expert Senior Meteorologist and West Coast resident Clark said. For the Pacific Northwest, though, Clark is predicting that precipitation will be "normal to well-above normal." He described above-normal precipitation as 20 percent or more that is typically received in the region.

"Certainly for the Cascades in Washington and Oregon and the mountains in Northern California, the Shasta Range and such, this could be a boon for the ski industry," Clark said.

Tiana Enger, marketing director for Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, which is about 80 miles southeast of Seattle, said the resort was excited to hear this winter's forecast.

Enger said, "The forecast looks favorable for an above average winter."

"The more it snows, the more people ski," she said. Enger also described Mother Nature as the best advertiser.

According to Enger, a La Nina winter means colder and wetter conditions which lead to more consistent snowfall.

However, Clark also cautioned that increased snow could create conditions ripe for avalanches this winter.

Enger said that while big snow "always heightens the risk" for avalanches, there is a big snow patrol that goes out daily after fresh snowfall to mitigate any risk.

Clark said the winter forecast "could also mean snowier than normal weather east of the Cascades."

"It's hard to say whether this 'stormier-than-normal' weather pattern is going to be 'snowier-than-normal' in the major I-5 corridor cities, from Eugene all the way up into Seattle," Clark said.

Last winter, Seattle had average temperatures as much as 6 degrees above its normal average temperature of 47 F in January and 3.5 degrees warmer than average in February.

In terms of precipitation, Seattle was slightly below normal. The city received almost 12.5 inches of precipitation or about 83 percent of the total precipitation that it expects to receive between December and February.

Related to the story:

Winter Weather Center

Visit our Facebook Fan Page

Follow us on Twitter Breaking Weather

Western Weather with Ken Clark


Comments left here should adhere to the Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News

  • WATCH: Ten-Foot Hammerhead Shark Swims Among Beachgoers

    August 2, 2014; 1:16 AM ET

    Since the movie "Jaws," inspired by 1916 shark attacks, the number of shark attacks has been on the rise due to human and seal population increases, shark migration and warming temperatures.

  • Bertha to Impact Caribbean, Swing East of US

    August 2, 2014; 1:13 AM ET

    Bertha is forecast to take a curved path near the islands in the northeastern Caribbean this weekend, then to stay off the East Coast of the United States next week.

Daily U.S. Extremes

past 24 hours

  Extreme Location
High N/A
Low N/A
Precip N/A


This Day In Weather History

Washington (1944)
A total of 5.31" of rain.

New England (1975)
"Hot Saturday" 107 degrees in New Bedford and Chester, MA All-time hottest day - 104 degrees in Providence, RI (also all-time record for state) 100 degrees in Nantucket for the first time

Texas (1980)
Heat wave continues for the following: Abilene - 41 consecutive days of 98 degrees or higher, tied 1952 record. Dallas/Ft. Worth - 41st consecutive day of 100 degrees + El Paso - 51st consecutive day of 100 degrees +