Early mountain snow a good sign of things to come? La Niña forecast reaffirmed
The news for skiers and snowboarders -- and snow lovers in general -- was doubly good on Thursday.
First of all, the Cascades received a nice dollop of snow -- as much as 5 inches at Paradise Ranger Station at Mt. Rainier. It made for salivating scenes for winter sports fans like this scenic wonderland at Stevens Pass:
Even Snoqualmie Pass got in on the snow party:
It's still a bit early in the season to work on its winter-time base, but the blanket of snow could be a good sign of things to come.
NOAA came out with its monthly update on the status of the El Niño/La Niña cycle and have maintained their "La Nina Watch" -- essentially meaning they believe La Niña conditions will eventually develop.
Right now, the state of the Central Pacific Ocean is still in a neutral phase, but on the edge of being cool enough to be La Niña. In addition, there are signs in the atmosphere that La Niña conditions are in their initial stages of development.
With those signs, forecasters are keeping a 55-67% chance La Niña will officially form in the next weeks or by start of winter, with neutral winter really the only other outcome:
La Niña autumns and winters are usually marked by cooler and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Mountain snowpacks are typically at or above average, which is why it's a favorite of snow fans. Even the lowlands tend to have a bit more snowfall than usual in La Niña winters.
NOAA comes out with its official winter forecast next Thursday (Oct. 19) and I expect they will be predicting wetter than usual conditions this winter with perhaps a lean toward the chillier side as well.