A question that several of you are asking is "Where is La Nina"?
Where are all the deep snows in the mountains that are often associated with it?
Or the big snows over the lowlands?
Is winter over?
So what is the situation now?
But before I go into that, let me remind all of you about Weatherfest tomorrow (Sunday) from 12-4 PM at the WA State Convention Center. Designed for K-12 folks, but fun for everyone, there will be booths for many weather related groups and agencies, local weather celebrities (like Jeff Renner, and Steve Pool), demonstrations, and lots of freebies. No admission fee.
Back to La Nina. Some facts:
(1) We are clearly in a moderate La Nina and will continue to be in one for the remainder of the winter.
(2) La Ninas are associated with above-normal precipitation and below-normal temperature over the region (the latter generally after Jan 1). They also tend to bring above normal snowpack in the mountains and above normal snow over the lowlands.
But keep in mind this is all probabilistic. The dice are weighted towards these things, but they don't have to happen. There are La Nina years where snowfall has been below normal for example.
(3) During moderate to strong La Nina years there are typically less MAJOR floods and windstorms and the atmospheric flow is highly variable, often with major ridges (high pressure areas) in the eastern Pacific.
So how is the snowpack doing? Here is the % of normal water in the snowpack around the western U.S. Below normal for the WA Cascades, near normal over Oregon, and above normal over the Olympics. Well above normal in the Sierras. Not a typical La Nina pattern.
What about temperature and precipitation over the lowlands this month? Temperature has been highly variable--with swings from much colder than normal to warmer than normal periods. The variability is La Nina like, but the net temperature is not below normal.
Precipitation has been slightly above normal--the result of extended dry periods and short periods of heavy rain (and warm).
However, there have been few periods of heavy precipitation and cold..and thus snow has been lacking.
So is this going to be a snow bust La Nina year? Folks, it is too early to tell. The mountain snowpack tends to increase into March--often reaching its peak in late March or even early April. Here is the current and typical snowpack for the Seattle watershed--the peak is around April 1.
And you can see we are below normal at this point, but the climatological maximum is not until early April.
For the lowlands, we are now past the peak of the big snow events and there is nothing in our immediate future. But the lowlands can get snow events into early March...so we have a little over a month left to give to enjoy the white stuff at low levels (see plot of Seattle historic snow events)
Finally, this week we will have a "dirty ridge" over us initially, one that will allow some precipitation into at least the northern part of the state. Current model runs indicate amplification of the ridge, and complete drying, by mid-week.
No major storms in the offering.
This benign weather report is clearly due to the presence of thousands of meteorologists in town for the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. The weather gods know not to cross us.
PS: Please considering contributing to supporting our local efforts and the department.. see links to the upper right and something I added today:
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