Weather Blog

Another chilly spring on tap?

Another chilly spring on tap?
By YouNews contributor Cjteteak send in a photo of a plant encased in ice at Green Lake Nov. 24. 2010.

While La Nina was pretty much MIA during the heart of the winter, now that winter is just about to cede to spring, La Nina is keeping her claws entrenched in the Northwest and doesn't show any signs of letting go.

NOAA just put out their spring forecast for the nation, which keeps the cooler than average weather, on the whole, going on through the spring. In fact both the 6-10 day outlook and the 8-14 day outlooks all keep it generally cool and wet for the next while.

That sentiment is echoed in the 90 day forecast through June, although it's mainly picking up a signal that it will remain cooler than normal, but not necessarily wetter than normal.

Warmth has been missing this year so far

Much like we managed last year to smash the record for latest first 75 degree day of the year, we're charting into somewhat similar territory this year.

So far, our warmest day of the year is 55 degrees, set both on Jan. 16 and March 15. According to local weather statistic guru Jason Phelps, March 17th now ties for the sixth longest stretch since we've been warmer than 55 degrees (as in, 56 or higher):

1) 1971--April 4
2) 1967--April 2
3) 1964--March 28
4) 1955--March 27
5) 1999--March 19
6) 1956--March 17
6) 2011--March 17

Forecasts indicate we'll easily move into 5th place by the end of the weekend.

What about 60 degrees? Had someone else ask about that too. The latest date to reach 60 degrees at Sea-Tac Airport is April 11 in 1954, according to Dana Felton with the National Weather Service. The last time we had to wait until April for our first 60 was 2002 (April 3rd). Before that, it was 1971.

It's only happened 7 times overall that we had to wait until April for that first 60.

Snowpack still going gangbusters up in the mountains

Another hallmark of La Nina is a healthy mountain snowpack and this year is no different.

After a series of storms moved through last week, snowpacks are running mainly 100 to 140 percent of normal, with Mt. Baker leading the way. They measured 230 inches on Mar 15 but they're already up to 252 inches on Mar. 17. That's nearly 100" more than this time last year.

Crystal Mountain is also running about 140% of normal while Snoqualmie and Stevens are just a bit above. So the water supply situation looks pretty good this summer.


When does the weather warm up?

La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean are forecast to linger through the spring but once we get into summer, La Nina's effects tend to be muted whether the oceans are still cool or not.

Sure enough, the long range forecasts for the summer aren't picking up a signal either cooler or hotter than average, as opposed to the strong cool signal it's showcasing in the near term.

That means summer has equal chances of being cool, average, or hot -- about the best we can do in seasonal forecasting is search for overall signals that would trend the forecast one way or another, and in this case, there's no signal to weight it either way.

But for many, "equal chance" is better than a solid chance of the cool weather stretching into summer.