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Snowy Winter Forecast Due To La Niña Warms Skiers' Hearts

File photo. Forecasters are predicting a weak La Niña will develop this fall and winter.
Simon Steinberger
Pixabay -
File photo. Forecasters are predicting a weak La Niña will develop this fall and winter.

The Oregon and Washington Cascades are getting their first significant snowfall of the season at mountain pass level Thursday. It's a possible harbinger of a cool and snowy winter.

An updated outlook from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center released Thursday said a weak La Niña is favored to develop this fall and winter. La Niña is a cyclical climate phenomenon driven by cooling of the sea surface in the equatorial Pacific, which triggers a cascade of changes in weather worldwide.

Mount Hood Meadows ski area spokesman Dave Tragethon said the past three weak La Niñas produced above average snowfall.

"The 2011-12 season was the last weak La Niña season,” he said. “We had 551 inches of snowfall during our season, well above our 429 inch average."

Tragethon cautioned "anything can happen," but said La Niña tips the scales toward colder and wetter. He said the forecast gives "momentum" to season ticket sales and planning for winter recreation outings in general "because people feel a little more confident" the snow will be good.

"There are a lot of people that are smiling because of the weather forecast that we have for this winter," Tragethon said. "It's good for agriculture. It's good for water supply. It's is good for fish. There are a lot of good things that happen when La Niña is forecast for a winter." 

AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok also expects the Northwest and the Rockies to receive an abundance of precipitation given the prediction of a weak La Niña. 

"It's a good area to head out to if you're a big skier," Pastelok said in a winter outlook aimed at a national audience posted on the AccuWeather website. 

North Idaho's Silver Mountain resort promptly shared the article in a marketing email titled, "We like big dumps & we cannot lie." 

Washington State's Department of Transportation on Thursday tweeted a picture of a frigid winter scene and a link to its careers webpage with the caption, "Lots of maintenance jobs open right now. Comfortable working in snow/rain/ice & pressure situations?"

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.