Skiers rejoice: La Niña is officially here

Skiers and snowboarders enjoy a day up at Snoqualmie Pass last March. (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE -- Winter sports lovers should have a smile on their faces Thursday as NOAA announced that La Niña conditions have officially arrived in the Pacific Ocean.

A La Niña Advisory was issued Thursday as temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean measured 0.5 degrees Celsius below normal -- the threshold for declaring a La Niña event.

And now that it's here, forecasters give it a 65-75 percent chance of sticking around through the winter:

It'll be the second winter in a row that we've had a weak La Niña -- not too unexpected considering we had a record strong El Nino in 2015. Getting a "Double Dip" La Niña has happened before -- most notably in 1998-2000 following the other record El Niño of 1997.

As you've probably heard dozens of times by now, La Niña winters are typically (but not always) marked by cooler and wetter conditions in the Pacific Northwest:

Which in turn usually leads to a pretty decent ski season and snowpack in the mountains, and better odds of snow in the lowlands:

(Last year's weak La Niña, not pictured, had 11.2 inches of snow in Seattle)

La Niña winters also tend to have a higher frequency of strong wind events, (although the historically strong events typically come in "neutral" years of no La Niña or El Niño)

La Niña is expected to fade as we head into spring. If the usual procession of these events holds true, we'll likely be set up for a neutral year in the winter of 2018-19.

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