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Climate expert expects ‘some major flooding’ this winter

By Don Jenkins

Capital Press

Published on November 2, 2016 3:36PM

A top weatherman warns the winter of 2016-17 could continue to bring heavy rainfall and flooding, like the conditions that damaged property around Southwest Washington in the February 2008 flood pictured here or the even worse conditions in February 1996.

OBSERVER 2008 FILE PHOTO

A top weatherman warns the winter of 2016-17 could continue to bring heavy rainfall and flooding, like the conditions that damaged property around Southwest Washington in the February 2008 flood pictured here or the even worse conditions in February 1996.

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Federal climatologists predict that dry conditions will generally recede over the winter in Washington. Oregon, Idaho and parts of Northern California, providing an early and upbeat outlook on next year’s water supply.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast a 70 percent chance of a weak La Niña, a cooling of the ocean around the equator.

La Niña generally tilts the odds in favor of wetter and cooler winters in the northern U.S., according to the center.

It’s not a sure bet, though. La Niña’s influence will vary by region. The odds it stays through the winter are 55 percent.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said he expects the La Niña to be too feeble to dictate the weather.

Higher ocean temperatures in the northeast Pacific Ocean and a trend toward warmer winters also may influence the weather, he said.

Still, even a normal winter would seem cold after the past several years, Bond said.

“There’s no indication that we’ll have a snowpack like the disaster we had two years ago,” he said. “There’s no reason to be pessimistic about next summer’s water supply.”

A year ago, 100 percent of Washington was classified as being in a drought. Now only 8 percent of the state is even “abnormally dry.”

Bond said that even without a strong La Niña or El Niño, the state could have an eventful winter. He said current climatic conditions resemble the months before massive flooding in February 1996. “I’d be surprised if we didn’t have some major flooding,” he said.

A seasonal outlook just issued by the Climate Prediction Center rates the chances that an area will have above-average or below-average precipitation and temperatures.

In Washington, the odds favor above-average precipitation in most of the state, though the chances are no better than even in the South Cascades, south Puget Sound, and southwestern and south-central Washington. The chances are even that temperatures will be above or below normal for most of the state. The odds favor above-average temperatures in southeastern Washington.

Oregon: Equal chances of above- or below-average precipitation. Odds favor above-average temperatures.



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