It's time to say goodbye to El Niño and we can get ready for La Niña. This means that it will cool down globally and certain regions may expect more snow than usual, like western Canada and the northwest of the United States. Ski areas like Mount Baker, Crystal Mountain, Whistler and Stevens Pass (basically the Pacific Northwest (click-click to find out more about this region) can expect more snowfall during a La Niña year.
From El Niño to La Niña
The El Niño phenomenon, which globally effects the temperatures to rise, decreases in strength. El Niño was caused by a bubble of warm water that is visible off the coast of Peru and that has a lot of influence on the distribution of high and low pressure systems over the Pacific Ocean. But that warm bubble is disappearing and the colder water is showing itself in the most recent measurements. Scientists believe that the chance of a La Niña for this winter is around 75%, so we can get ready for lower temperatures.
Lots of snow in the northwest of North America
The most recent serious signal that we will get a lot of snow and low temperatues in Canada and the northwest of the United States comes from NOAA. They recently presented their winter outlook for winter '16 -'17 and that is looking good. There's a change in air pressure causing cold air from the northwest and moist air from the ocean to focus on the west. The result is temperatures that are lower than usual and more important: much more snowfall than normal!
Much more snow than normal
NOAA made it visual with the precipitation forecast for the coming winter. And that looks like this. Green means more snowfall than normal, orange / brown means less snowfall than normal)
How reliable is NOAA?
NOAA is pretty serious about this kind of stuff. They don't rely on plants, sunspots or other phenomena whose correlation with an epic winter is quite tricky. At NOAA, they rely on their supercomputers and data analyses from the past. They made a pretty good seasonal forecast last winter, especially for Europe. A forecast for the winter in North America as they are doing now is definitely one to be reckoned with. The indicators of a cold and snowy winter in the northwest of the USA are green and I'm already looking forward to riding powder in Canada next winter!