La Niña: Better late than never? Forecasts call for cool start to spring

A reflection in the puddle of a person walking in Seattle on a rainy day (Photo: Noah Lubin)

Perhaps La Niña wasn't going to ignore the Pacific Northwest as much as just be a bit fashionably late.

2018 began with a rather warm and mundane January into early February -- opposite of the cooler, wetter pattern we usually expect with a La Niña, which is what meteorologists call it when there is a pool of cooler-than-normal waters in the central Pacific Ocean. Snowpack was fairly close to normal in Washington, but well below normal in Oregon.

However, with a cold snap looming this weekend and the mountains about to add a massive dose of snow to their snowpack, signs of La Nina are finally abound. And fresh long range forecasts suggest this time, she might stick around a bit.

The latest charts from the NOAA suggest pretty decent odds of a cooler than normal March across Western Washington with forecasts leaning cool extending into early spring:

NOAA's forecasters suggest the reason for the cooler forecast is indeed La Nina, which is still there (for now) to continue to provide a cooling influence on our region. Sure, they had that forecast in January and February too, but now actual medium range forecasts seem to agree.

However, the models that predict sea surface temperature anomalies suggest La Nina's days are numbered, and will quickly fade as we get into April.

Thus, while they suggest a cool start to spring, we should trend back to normal conditions by mid-late spring, with a leaning toward slightly better odds of a warmer than typical summer again.

Going forward, it appears we'll stay in neutral conditions this summer with an eye toward either being neutral or perhaps trending to a weak El Nino for next winter.

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