Another La Nina could bring heavy snow to the Cascades
La Nina's are common, and two La Ninas in a row are not unheard of.
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch a couple of weeks ago, which could end up being the second weak one in a row to impact the Pacific Northwest.
The La Nina episode last year brought record breaking snow to the region, and although there is a watch in place, meteorologist Ryan Sandler at the National Weather Service in Medford says it is still difficult to forecast whether the snow will be just as heavy this season.
"Generally with La Nina, it's cooler and wetter in the Pacific Northwest, [and] this may be a weak one. So, we're not officially forecasting those conditions. We're actually forecasting warmer, maybe wetter fall, but then equal chances in the winter," Sandler says.
It is more difficult to forecast whether or not heavy snow will fill the valley once again, but the Cascades are on trend for another good snow year if we see another weak La Nina.
"Being La Nina, if that occurs, would be helpful for cooler and wetter conditions, which would mean lower snow levels and a lot of snow pack," says Sandler.
Hiram Towle, general manager of the Mount Ashland Ski Area is ready for the ski season after coming off a great season that brought more than 80,000 skiers to the mountain last year.
"We like to see those long-range forecasts show something that we can actually compare to a trend, and La Ninas have traditionally been good to us," Towle says.
Towle says they saw a 17% increase in skiers last season, but he says only Mother Nature is in control of how good the season will be this year.
"Last year was a La Nina year and we ended up with 371 inches of snow," Towle says. "So it's a good sign, but we don't bank on it.