The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

La Niña leaving NW, El Niño may lie ahead


February 16, 2017

La Niña conditions that were a big driver behind colder and wetter weather in the Columbia Basin “are no longer present” — at least over the Pacific Ocean, according to a monthly report issued February 9 by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Ocean waters have been warming and climate neutral conditions are emerging, and there are greater-than-even chances of an El Niño climate pattern taking hold during the second half of this year, the report states.

La Niña was expected to produce cooler and wetter weather in the four-state Columbia Basin, and that prediction panned out with record low temperatures, and record high precipitation recorded in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana since last October. Neutral conditions typically produce an environment of uncertainty for weather forecasters.

The report notes that several forecasting models anticipate neutral conditions will persist through the spring months.

“Thereafter, there are increasing odds for El Niño toward the second half of 2017,” the report states.

Depending on its strength, an El Niño weather pattern can produce warmer and drier conditions in the Northwest. While the El Niño-La Niña Southern Oscillation is known to be a powerful influence in the Northwest and other regions, such as the Southwest, they are not the only influences on weather and they do not produce uniform weather throughout a region. One county may have a record wet month, for instance, but that may not occur in other nearby counties.


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