Every year more and more “experts” come out with snow predictions for the upcoming season. It seems to get earlier and earlier each year. It’s almost become a competition to see who can put out an accurate report the soonest. Well this year we win! (Just note we are not even remotely close to being experts!)
Even though we are still making mad turns in the backcountry and enjoying last seasons snow, I can’t help but look forward to next year! So, let’s start with the science. Last season, we told you what El Niño was and what to expect. The next season forecasters are predicting something a little different. It’s a lesser known weather pattern called La Niña. Since 1950, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) reports there have been 14 La Nina and 23 El Niño.
The difference between the two is during El Niño ocean waters warm and La Niña means ocean waters cool. As with all weather there are many factors that go into predicting the outcomes. One thing is for certain. The CPC has announced 75% chance of La Niña. Since this is the case it seems to be lining up to resemble the 97′ – 98′ El Niño to 98′ – 99′ La Niña seasons.
Well the answer to this question is complicated and it depends on where you are. For those who don’t know or somehow forgot the reason I referred to those specific seasons is because during that time Mt. Baker set the record for the most snowfall for one season. How much you ask? They received 1,140 in. or 95 ft.! Now that we got your attention here’s what to expect in North America. During typical La Niña’s the north normally gets higher than average snowfall, while the south usually has less snow. The toughest part to read is the central U.S. In past years La Niña has provided above average winters for this area in terms of snowfall, but there is no guarantee.
In short if you are looking for the sure bet this upcoming ski season, look to the Pacific Northwest. This is area is guaranteed to get good snow if La Niña pans out as predicted. Other areas that usually have strong season during this pattern are Canada, Alaska, Wyoming and Montana. Then if you want to role the dice, book your trip to Colorado, Tahoe or Utah. In past years these areas have faired well.
As with any forecast you need to take it with a “grain of salt,” as they say. We are just having a little fun, but if it turns out as predicted above…we called it! For now there’s tons of goods to be had. Get out there and enjoy.