One week we’re enduring apocalyptic smoke and heat, then suddenly a deluge washes it all away, the temperature drops, leaves start falling, and thoughts turn to the coming winter. Any skier paying attention to the mainstream media couldn’t help but be depressed by endless talk of a strong El Nino and predictions of a warmer and drier winter. After such a mediocre snow season last year, it’s almost enough to consider taking up fat biking. We are going to experience an El Nino winter, but as an obsessive weather geek it seems all this doom and gloom forecasting is misdirected. The American NOAA provides detailed modelling http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/ENSO/enso.anal.shtml of El Nino’s historic impact on our (actually 10km to the South) weather, which leads to very different conclusions.
Jan – Mar precipitation anomaly records from 1950 – 2002 clearly show that while the Seattle area averages less precipitation in El Nino years, there is no consistent variation from normal for North Eastern Washington. The same applies for moderate to strong El Ninos. For temperature there is on average no change in El Nino years, while an average of approximately one degree centigrade increase in temperature in moderate to strong El Ninos. Compared to the two to four degree warming we experienced last year due to the Blob http://cliffmass.blogspot.ca/2015/09/godzilla-el-nino-versus-blob-who-will.html this isn’t a significant cause for concern.
I’m expecting a normal snowy winter, with as good a chance as not of an above average winter at Red mountain as per the last two strong El Ninos in 1982/83 and 1997/98 http://bestsnow.net/summ98.htm .