What Happened to La Nina?

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Forrest getting a little early powder this season

Up here in the PNW, the winter started off with a bang. Aha, we all cried, raising our fists in the air in salutation to Mother Nature/Ullr/La Nina. Winter’s back, we smiled into our the collars of our jackets and prepared for the onslaught. We patrollers chortled and thanked our lucky stars for glorious weather pattern bringing storm after storm our way.

Then something changed. A blocking high-pressure set up off the coast, thumbing her nose at our powder dreams, bringing bluebird days, but no new snow.

Not to say the groomers haven’t been great. They have. Crystal Mountain has some of the best coverage in the lower 48–very few rocks showing on the pistes, chaulky dry snow on north-facing slopes and fast groomers.

But when you’re promised another banner year, well, it’s easy to get a little impatient. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of skiers and riders these past weeks. Maybe everyone is using this non-powder time to finish their holiday shopping, attend Christmas parties and otherwise tick items off their to-do list. But even a groomer day is better than not skiing, in my opinion.

The real question is: when is it going to snow? A few flakes are falling now, as I write, so that’s a start. And next week the Euro models show a trough coming through with the chance for more snow. But the real story is La Nina.

Where is she?

The meteorologists at NOAA haven’t given up on this winter’s hostess, and neither have I. Here’s a quote from their Climate Prediction Center:
EVEN THOUGH THE CURRENT LA NINA IS NOT
THAT CONSISTENT WITH HISTORICAL COMPOSITES, IT IS KNOWN THAT THE MAIN IMPACTS OF LA NINA WINTERS ARE FELT LATER IN THE SEASON (JANUARY-MARCH), WITH LATE
DECEMBER INTO JANUARY THE MOST LIKELY PERIOD TO BE IN TRANSITION.

Which means, our hostess is a little late. Take a look at the outlook maps to the right. The temperature prediction should continue to be below normal in the PNW, and more importantly, the precipitation looks to be above normal around here.

What does that spell? Say it with me now people. “Powder!”

So go on and get your holiday shopping finished. Say hello to the family, put in your required appearances now. We’ll continue to rip the groomers and dip our fingers into the bowl of peanuts while glancing periodically at our watches wondering when the guest of honor will arrive.

She’ll come. We just have to be patient.

And if she’s anything like her sister from last season, we’ll be ringing in the New Year with powder in our teeth.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen is the best Christmas gift a girl could ask for.

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7 responses »

  1. I am also awaiting the arrival of the guest of honor….although this does give me time to get things in order since things have been so disorderly lately…just not into falling with frail cancer/chemo bones onto the icy, bulletproof ground right now. I am going to try to make it up to Crystal before the new year however…it’s just been a little rough and raw here in cancerland lately. I’ve got the faith that our guest of honor will come bearing many, many gifts of the fluffy variety.

  2. Kim, You do a wonder job on this email. thanks for all of the information. Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho opened today. Limited snow, but we make it. We are having a can and coat drive for the needy. I have never seen so many people here at one time before. I guess school is out. No complaints. Everyone is happy just to get moving on something besides concrete and asphalt. I know it will get better, but this is a great beginning. Keep up the good work, I really enjoy it.

    PS: Enjoy the Experience (88)

  3. Same here in Colorado! But I always understood in the LR forecast that December was supposed to be dry. Actually I’m not complaining too much as we’re in the process of moving house and weekends are taken up with packing. I’m secretly glad I am not conflicted with big powder days. That being said I’ve still got in more than 20 days already though most of it skinning unopened ski areas rather then the backcountry which is my preference. The packing will be done next week so I predict the snow will start then 🙂

  4. Just remember this when the climate folks tell you they can predict out ten, twenty years. We’re still waiting for their six-month forecast to be right, down here at Bachelor.

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