UW Emergency Management

September 28, 2017

Winter Weather Outlook for Western Washington (2017-18)

Following a mild and short-lived La Niña last winter, the climatic phenomenon known as “La Niña” stands a 55-60 percent chance of developing once again this fall and winter. That’s the most recent forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center.  Based on observations of what’s happening in the Pacific Ocean, and modeling to predict what may be coming, NOAA has issued a La Niña watch, indicating that conditions are favorable for its development.

weather outlook pictureLa Niña can strongly shift weather patterns, bringing anomalously cool or warm, and wet or dry, conditions to large parts of the world. In the United States, La Niña tends to bring wetter than normal conditions to the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Midwest. Unfortunately for southern and central California, things tend to dry out.  The UW’s resident weather expert, Dr. Cliff Mass recently stated in his weather blogThe implications for snow is clear, especially after January 1…. a higher probability of the white stuff, particularly in the mountains.  Yes… a reasonable year to get an annual pass at your favorite ski area!

While last winter shattered all records for the amount of precipitation (mostly rain) west of the Cascade Mountains, this winter may not be as wet.  With this long-term weather prognostication in hand, UW Emergency Management has been working with our campus operational units and departments to begin preparations for another messy (and wet) fall and winter season. All UW students, faculty and staff are encouraged to check out our Winter Storm preparedness webpage for more information on how to best get ready for winter.