Colder, wetter winter ahead? La Niña watch issued for upcoming winter in Western Washington

There's some promising news for La Niña watch on Thursday for the upcoming winter season, meaning a cooler-than-usual winter with more precipitation could be in store for the region.

The center is currently predicting that La Niña will likely emerge between September and November and last through January 2022. While the strength of the event is not currently known, last year was a "moderate-to-strong" event through March, with February seeing a major snow event in the lowlands.

And if you don't remember what La Niña is from your science or geography classes, here's a brief refresher: La Niña is an ocean-atmosphere weather pattern that describes below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Conversely, El Niño occurs when the water is warmer than usual.

While most water in the Pacific will be just a few degrees cooler than average, this minor temperature fluctuation can disrupt the entire world's weather pattern. The chances for weather events such as lowland snow also increase with a strong La Niña, and the likelihood of a healthy snowpack is also bolstered by the event.

And while that's certainly good news for those looking for some winter recreation, a healthy snowpack is incredibly important to the natural splendor of the region. Not only does the snowpack irrigate the Yakima Basin and Columbia Basin, but it also sustains the surviving salmon runs into the Columbia River.

While La Niña increases the chances of a colder, wetter winter in Washington, other regions including the southern U.S. will likely see drier, warmer conditions.


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