This warm winter is El Nino at work!
The high today in Boise was 50 degrees! Don’t forget, it was cloudy and we had a few sprinkles around. That was 13 degrees warmer than normal. So what gives? So far, this is turning out to be a classic El Nino scenario for Idaho. In fact, warmer than normal temperatures are expected for the next 5-7 days. That in and of itself is not the only gauge we use. Long range prediction forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center help to narrow things down as well.
For example, the temperature forecast for the northwest calls for warmer than normal temperatures through March. Also, the precipitation forecast through March also calls for equal chances of normal precipitation to a chance of below normal precipitation. So far, it has been warmer and a bit drier than normal. Our snowpack in Idaho is running below average for this water year. It’s not much below average, but, when you live in a desert climate you prefer things to be wetter than normal.
El Nino occurs as part of a normal cycle that happens with ocean currents. Sometimes the ocean temperatures off the coast of South America turn warmer than normal. This has a direct impact on how the atmosphere behaves. It typically triggers a more active pattern for the southern states. Sometimes, that same region of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America will be colder than normal and that triggers the cycle we know as La Nina. The winter we had two years ago was a La Nina. Need I say more?
With an El Nino in place, the pattern will likely lean toward warmer than normal temperatures for Idaho. The precipitation should be normal or slightly drier than normal. Our weather is looking dry for the next 5-7 days. That short timeframe can put a dent in our snowpack. But, at least the weather looks nice for the weekend. We’ll keep watching.