What's Next for the Pacific Northwest?
El Niño Conditions
El Niño conditions are present in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and are expected to persist through the winter of 2015-16. Sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific continue to get warmer relative to normal, with weekly sea-surface temperature (SST) departures from normal exceeding 3.0 degrees Celsius. The "El Niño Advisory" that was released on March 5 is still in effect. Model consensus is extremely high that the El Niño will persist through the winter, with chances above 95%, and the current forecast indicates that it will be a "strong" El Niño event. Chances that the El Niño will persist through the spring are at about 75%. The 3-month seasonal forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center are representing the tendency for El Niño winters to be warmer and drier than usual in the Pacific Northwest.
What does this mean for Washington in the coming months?
The CPC three-class winter (December-January-February; DJF) temperature outlook has increased chances of above normal temperatures for the entire state, with chances exceeding 60% on the three-tiered system. In other words, the chances of near-normal temperatures or below normal temperatures are split between the remaining 40%. For DJF precipitation, there are elevated chances of below normal precipitation for the eastern two-thirds of the state, with higher chances of drier than normal conditions in eastern WA. The Olympic Peninsula and southwestern WA have equal chances of below, equal to, or above normal precipitation.
The outlook for January-February-March (JFM) is very similar: there are increased chances of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the entire state. For precipitation, the highest odds of below normal precipitation are in eastern WA, while the Olympic Peninsula now has higher chances of below normal precipitation as well.
Last Updated: 11/19/2015
Climate Prediction Resources
NWS Local 3-Month Temperature Outlook
The links below provide access to global and regional climate predictions.