Experts are predicting a record-strength El Niño weather pattern for this coming season - what does that mean for your local mountain?
To refresh your memory, El Niño is a weather pattern that occurs when Pacific ocean water is warmer than normal which causes a strengthening and re-routing of the jetstream. El Niño is typically considered by skiers and snowboarders in the Pacific Northwest to be a curse, however the pattern doesn't always mean a short winter season.
First of all, it's practically impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy how an El Niño pattern will actually play out. In previous El Niño seasons, Mt. Spokane has experienced below-average, average, and believe it or not, above-average snowfall. The Farmer's Almanac
is actually predicting that "above-normal precipitation (thanks to incoming storms
from the Pacific) will cover much of the Pacific Northwest."
What makes the situation even more interesting is "The Blob," a warm-water mass which has taken up residence in the Pacific Ocean and seemed to have tremendous effect on last season's weather patterns. See "El Niño vs The Blob
" article at Ski Utah for an interesting look at how El Niño may actually turn out to be our friend this season by potentially breaking up the warm Blob.
It's still too early to tell, and of course we'll never really know what the season will bring until Closing Day in April 2016. One thing we do know for sure - winter is on the way!