Hey La Nina! Are you still there?


After a warm November, a lot of skiers and snow lovers have been looking forward to the long range predictions that La Nina should generate a wetter than normal winter for Idaho. It certainly did last season. So far, many of us are not impressed with December. If you’ve been listening to my forecasts lately, you may get downright depressed at the outlook for the next couple of weeks!

A massive high pressure system has hijacked the weather in the west and is denying us of any storms. In fact, the long range models are indicating the dry pattern will remain for the next 10-14 days. So, COME ON LA NINA, what gives??? Are you still there? The answer to that question is unequivocally, “yes”. La Nina is there and it really has a strong signature. Note the graphic above. You’ll see what appears to be blue waves near the center of the Pacific Ocean. This graphic shows sea surface temperature “anomalies”. In non-weather geek talk that’s ocean temperatures that are either colder or warmer than normal. The blue denotes water that is colder than normal. There is no doubt that the colder than normal water in the Pacific is there. This is a classic La Nina signature.

There are a lot of storms forming in the Pacific Ocean, they just can’t move into the west because the High Pressure system in the west is locked in place. So for now, La Nina is generating the storms but we have a traffic jam in the flow of storms. The atmosphere is a river. Sometimes it flows constant and steady. Sometimes, there can be log jams that hold back the normal flow. Right now, there is a jam and until it moves, we’ll continue to see more of the same weather.

I have seen this before. These big Highs can set up at the start of winter for days or even weeks at a time. The only thing we can do, is wait it out. Once the high breaks down, the normal flow of things should return. We’ll see storms followed by cold, dry pockets of air, then more storms. But, just because there is a strong La Nina in place, it doesn’t always guarantee a wet winter for the northwest. In fact, 4 out of the last 10 La Nina’s have generated normal or below normal precipitation for Idaho.

There is one thing I can guarantee you for now…an inversion is setting in. The temperatures will get colder in the valley. And, it’s going to be dry until the high goes away.

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