Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Winter could be a whopper, forecasters say

The most intense La Niña conditions since 1955 are brewing near the equator, raising the odds of a wild winter in the western US ski areas. Meteorologists say more rain, colder temperatures and bigger snowstorms are likely.

Hearing this news skiers and snowboarders rejoiced, running naked in the streets before they start planning that Epic Ski/Ride vacation they have been dreaming about.

"There's the potential for whoppers — but no guarantees," Washington state Climatologist Nick Bond said Thursday at a National Weather Service briefing.

"La Niña winters are snowy winters," said Brad Colman, National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge for Seattle. "Skiers and departments of transportation should be paying attention."

The flip side of the more-famous El Niño pattern, La Niñas occur when the ocean near the equator becomes colder than usual. Current temperatures are the coldest for this time of year since the 1950’s. Computer models predict the pattern will continue, and possibly strengthen, throughout the season, Colman said.

Ocean temperatures affect air circulation. Those patterns in turn tweak the strength and location of the jet stream that brings the Northwest much of its weather. Generally, La Niña winters start out wet, with fairly average temperatures, said University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass. By January, temperatures plunge and snowfall increases.

Don’t delay, book today for best air fares, lodging choices and best early season booking incentives.

Lance Cygielman

Lance is our Western Division Manager, stationed in our Jackson Hole office. He's always got his finger on the pulse of what's happening out there in the ski universe. Look for fun and informative updates from Lance all season long!

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