The weather in the Northwest this winter could be very bad – or not so much – because once again we’re in a neutral pattern – not an El Nino or La Nina.
The neutral, or “La Nada” event, has persisted since the spring of 2012 and models suggest this pattern will continue into the spring of 2014, according to scientists with the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
"Without an El Niño or La Niña signal present, other, less predictable, climatic factors will govern fall, winter and spring weather conditions," said climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Long-range forecasts are most successful during El Niño and La Niña episodes. The 'in between' ocean state, La Nada, is the dominant condition, and is frustrating for long-range forecasters. It's like driving without a decent road map -- it makes forecasting difficult."
KING 5 Meteorologist Jeff Renner says in Western Washington, the key element is there is no tendency toward either a cool, wet winter or a warm, dry winter.
“We do have big wind or snowstorms, but it’s unlikely those will be terribly frequent,“ he said.
For the past several decades, about half of all years have experienced La Nada conditions, compared with about 20 percent for El Niño and 30 percent for La Niña.
“We have had some of our biggest single event snowstorms in La Nada years,” said Renner.
An average winter would see about 7-8 inches of snow in Seattle.
Last year was the winter that wasn’t. There were no big snowstorms or windstorms, no extreme temperatures and no flooding.
Could we see a harsh winter this year? Only time will tell.