For those who are tired of the La Nina conditions that we've had over the past two years, there is some good news out of NOAA Thursday.
La Nina is on its last gasps.
The phenomenon where a large part of the Pacific Ocean waters are cooler than normal weakened quite a bit in February, with some parts of the ocean back to normal or even a touch above, according to NOAA's latest forecast.
The area of the ocean that "counts" for whether it's La Nina or its counterpart El Nino is still cooler than normal, so technically La Nina remains in effect, but all models indicate that we'll be in neutral conditions by the end of April or so, and then some of the far long range models indicate we could actually move into El Nino conditions by next fall and winter. (El Nino is considered +0.5C or warmer and that is where the dotted line is trending)
Neutral fall and winters tend to run the gamut of warm, dry periods and cool, stormy periods. While La Nina winters tend to have overall more frequent snow events (something that really didn't occur with these past two La Nina winters), neutral winters tend to have the greatest storms, only spaced out sporadically. Neutral winters tend to have more in the way of wind storms and flooding rains too, but also extended dry periods.
El Nino winters are weighted toward warmer and drier with less in the way of lowland snow events and typically feature below normal snowpacks in the mountains. (In other words, not exactly a skier's best friend.)
But in the short term, the atmosphere is still responding to La Nina conditions, which will continue a general cool and wet theme here in the Northwest.
These maps show the general overall pattern for the next 8-14 days, followed below by the 90 day March-May forecast below:
8-14 Day Forecast:
90 Day Forecast, March - May:
These conditions are expected to persist through spring (much like last year) but we should be in line for a better summer this time around. And then we'll see if we head into El Nino during the fall.