Weather Blog

Weather pattern La Nina dies at 307 days

Weather pattern La Nina dies at 307 days
Despite driving snow, mailman John Jackson walks his route, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash.

SEATTLE -- Skiers and cold weather fans are mourning the passing of La Nina.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center announced the much-maligned weather pattern died Thursday. She was 307 days old. Cause of death was listed as a high fever.

La Nina was born on July 28, 2010 in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Its birth announcement was filled with hope and promise of a strong, healthy life that would reign through the Northern Hemisphere Winter.

The news was received with much fanfare with visions in the Pacific Northwest of a winter that would rival some of the worst ever recorded since Lewis and Clark found the end of the Columbia River. Some of La Nina's previous ancestors have made for very snowy and rainy winters and epic mountain snowpacks in the Northwest and predictions of greatness were abound.

La Nina showed flashes of its potential when a rare Thanksgiving week snow event struck the Northwest, dropping a few inches of snow and smashing records as temperatures dropped into the teens and single digits.

But La Nina became distracted as the fall turned into winter and relocated to extended visits along the East Coast and Northern Europe. The Northwest would spend most of the rest of the winter on the meteorological sidelines. Oh sure, it was a wet autumn and February was much colder than normal (7th coldest on record). And La Nina did make a brief visit in late February with a snowstorm that blanketed parts of Skagit County with over two feet of snow and blanketed most of Seattle and Bremerton with two feet of sunshine.

But by the start of March, it felt as if La Nina had spurned the Northwest for good.

Then,  La Nina had a big change of heart and moved back home to the Northwest as we got into the spring and she settled in for her retirement years. And while she was around, the Seattle area experienced one of the wettest Marches on record, the coldest April ever, and a combined wet and chilly May that ranked among the Top 10 in several cold temperature and rainfall categories. Snow piled up in the mountains -- Mt. Rainier still had over 200 inches of snow as the calendar headed out of May -- and Crystal Mountain was still offering skiing in June.

La Nina did begin to become frail in its elderly stages, weakening through May before succumbing to warmer ocean temperatures in early June. She is survived by her cousin Neu Tral who will be taking over the reins for the summer and upcoming winter.

Neu Tral's ancestors have had very turbulent reigns with previous autumns and winters that have featured very strong storms, be it snow storms, wind storms, or rain storms, mixed with periods of extended calm weather. Most of the stormiest days in Northwest weather lore have come during Neu Tral eras.

In the meantime, memorial services will be held at neighborhood parks and backyards with a traditional barbecue. In lieu of sending flowers, weather officials suggest you just go plant some new ones instead as the sunshine returns.