By Ann McCreary
It’s probably not overly optimistic to get those skis waxed, if they aren’t already. The Methow Valley can expect to see colder and wetter than normal weather during the coming winter, which starts officially in three weeks.
That is thanks to La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which typically produce colder temperatures and more precipitation than normal in Washington and other states in the northern part of the country.
“Typically, we have more snow in the mountains in La Niña, which is great news for people worried about fish, in addition to winter recreation and all that good stuff,” said Karin Bumbaco, assistant state climatologist.
The La Niña weather pattern is a periodic cooling of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It generally gets stronger in January and February in the Northwest, Bumbaco said.
“In November we had near normal temperatures, and we were wetter than normal across the state. We’re fitting with the pattern. Typically, La Niña impacts show up after the first of the year,” she said.
Last winter was also characterized by a La Niña, but that system peaked earlier in the season, Bumbaco said.
The colder, wetter pattern appears to be setting the stage for a healthy winter snowpack, which is vital for agriculture, wildlife and recreation. Mountain snowpack in the Upper Columbia watershed, which includes the Methow Valley, was at 133 percent of normal as of Tuesday (Nov. 28). In north Puget Sound the snowpack was at 136 percent of normal and the Olympic Mountains snowpack was an impressive 314 percent of normal.