What Does A 'Neutral Winter' Mean?


By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - It's been the buzz word of late: We're having what climatologists call a "neutral winter." It's the term when we're not having either a El Nino winter (when the ocean waters are warmer than usual) or a La Nina winter (when the ocean waters are cooler than usual.) Basically, ocean temperatures are right where they ought to be.

Both La Nina and El Nino tend to have moderating effects on the winter season. El Ninos keep it warmer and drier, while La Nina tends to be colder and wetter.

But neutral years tend to be quite variable -- maybe warm and wet one week, then perhaps cold and dry the next. This winter's been no different -- already seemingly having a year's worth of weather in six weeks. We expect the wide-ranging weather to continue through the end of winter.

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