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Skier, snowboarders thrilled to hear predictions of weak El Nino

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm with No Comments »
November 6, 2012 1:15 pm

As far as Northwest skiers and snowboarders are concerned it would be OK if they never saw La Nina’s brother.

They might not have a choice this winter, but forecasters say El Nino might not have the energy to live up to its dry personality anyway.

While the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasted an El Nino weather system for this winter, NWS meteorologist Johnny Burg says that forecast now calls for a weak El Nino or perhaps a neutral winter.

In La Nina winters, the Northwest tends to experience colder and wetter weather, typically meaning plenty of snow in the mountains. Back-to-back La Ninas kept skiers knee deep in powder the last two years.

During El Nino winters, temperatures are usually warmer and drier, resulting in less snow.

Burg said the current prediction of a weak El Nino means it’s almost “50-50 that winter weather will be warmer than normal.”

While this news might not be as good as a La Nina forecast, ski areas are still rejoicing. “Although,” Burg said, “keep in mind that long-range forecasts are not always correct.”

Still, John Gifford, new president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association, is ecstatic at the prospect of a normal winter.

Gifford, former general manager of Stevens Pass, heard the news on a popular weather blog maintained by University of Washington professor Cliff Mass.

“The best part,” Gifford said, “was that he said it was OK for skiers and snowboarders to get a season pass.”

Guy Lawrence, marketing director of the Summit at Snoqualmie, couldn’t agree more.

“Essentially it looks we’re going to have a good winter,” Lawrence said, “but we’re going to have to put up with a few pineapples (stretches of warmer, rainy weather. … It’s better than a full-strength El Nino.”


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