Caught in a neutral pattern jokingly called La Nada, whats in store for the Northwest is anybodys guess

August and September brought the rain, making the past few weeks of summer feel as if fall arrived early. October on the other hand, has brought foggy mornings with sunny and warm afternoons, making summer feel like it has made a return. But, with October drawing to a close, and winter just around the corner, what’s the latest prediction? by: GARY ALLEN - Halcyon days - Unseasonably warm and sunny weather for the first three weeks of October may have lulled Northwest residents into an Indian Summer haze, not realizing that the harsh winds of winter would inevitably come to the region.

With a rainy September, October brought an Indian summer that will likely end once November rolls around, some officials said.

Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, wrote in an email that “A large ridge of high pressure is anchored just off the coast and has been for the past three weeks. This has shunted all of the normal storms well north of the Pacific Northwest.”

Despite a warmer than average fall for the past few years, Pierce made it clear that this fall was abnormal and not part of a trend.

“When we look back at the past 10 years, several Octobers have shown signs of being warmer and dryer than normal,” he said. “I don’t see any clear trend here. Maybe over a longer period of time such as 25-30 years, but nothing in the past 10 or so years.”

Don’t worry — November is sure to bring some normalcy back to our unusual fall weather, he said.

“November should see a marked cool down with quite a bit more precipitation than we saw in October,” he said. “In fact, November is usually the second wettest month of the year behind January.”

According to Pierce, “all of Mother Nature’s cards are on the table this year,” when it comes to winter’s forecast. He predicts that much like this fall, there could be large variations in weather from month-to-month. Having a neutral winter predicted will increase the chance for record-setting weather events, similar to what we saw in September’s high rainfall.

This winter is forecasted to be a neutral or “La Nada” year, meaning it is neither a La Nina nor El Nino. According to Pierce’s blog, there are two camps of winter weather predictions. Some are expecting a cold and snowy winter, while others are predicting a mild and warm winter. When it comes to Pierce’s own prediction of how winter weather will unfold, he said, “I expect that will be the case this year as we sit in a “neutral” state in the Pacific Ocean. History has also shown that Portland tends to get more snowfall at low elevations (valley floor) is these exact same kinds of years where we are not being influenced by either El Nino or La Nina.”

There is also an increased chance of one major cold spell or snowfall event. “The last significant snowfall winter in Portland was December 2008, which is an analog to this year,” he wrote. “A “La Nada” winter increases the odds of picking up near normal snowfall in Portland.”

Willamette Valley residents also have an increase shot at seeing a regional wind storm. Pierce notes that this is not a guaranteed prediction, but simply suggests there is a greater than normal probability for strong winds.

Pierce’s last prediction is that at least one of the upcoming winter months has the probability to become warmer and wetter than average. Be prepared, this has the potential to cause a flooding event, he warned.

For skier and snowboarders, Pierce says to expect an average winter in terms of snowfall in the Cascades. Local resorts can be expected to open in late October or early November, which is typical.

No matter what this winter brings, the National Weather Service encourages Northwest residents to be prepared.

“Be sure to have your three-day emergency preparedness kit ready at home, school and/or at work,” reads their Winter Awareness Week website. “This kit should include water and non-perishable food for each person, and AM/FM battery-powered radio, along with flashlights and extra batteries. Be sure to include vital medications, sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothing.”

For more information on how to prepare yourself for winter weather, visit the National Weather Service website,

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