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Western Washington could see La Niña winter this season

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 10/13/2021 Abby Acone, KOMO News meteorologist/reporter
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Western Washington is due for another La Niña winter that could translate into a banner year for mountain snowpack although the season is likely to come with a few changes compared to last year.

Last year's La Niña weather pattern brought an abundance of mountain snow and dangerous travel over passes. 

This winter will bring a similar pattern but the La Niña is expected to be weaker.

"I’m stoked!" said Kai Harper, who lives in Seattle. "Absolutely. How could I not be?" 

Most people that KOMO News interviewed Tuesday said they give the new winter forecast a thumbs up.

"I’m looking forward to it," said Paul Baker, who lives in Seattle. "I’m hoping it means more snow, like last year I think."

Research conducted by the Office of the Washington State Climatologist found that the second of a consecutive La Niña winter, which is what Washington state could see this year, actually trends cooler and wetter in the early part of the season, including October, November and December before weakening somewhat in the new year.

Caption: The region could see a wetter, colder winter season in a few months.

If that pans out this fall and winter, the region could see mountain snow earlier this year than last year.

"For summer water supplies (and) forest health for the freshwater ecosystems, the salmon and trout like a lot of snowpack at the end of winter," said Dr. Nick Bond, a Washington State climatologist. 

He said a solid snowpack does wonders for the state's environment, stressing that last winter's mountain snow played a critical role in our fire season. 

Washington state endured a historic heat wave and bad smoke from wildfires with June 15 to Sept. 15 being the driest on record at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"I just shudder to think what this past summer would have looked like if we hadn’t had that healthy snowpack that we had earlier this year," Bond said.

Brent Bower, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service, said the forecast for La Niña is for average trends for the entire season, meaning, not every day or even every week this winter will be cold and soggy. 

In fact, there could be stretches of warmer and drier-than-usual weather. 

He said there is a lot of uncertainty about the forecast over the next several months.

"We could have a wetter-than-average year, but it could come in small drips and drabs and not be anything in terms of snow," Bower said. "You could have a dry winter, but all the rain comes in a few bunches and you have horrible, severe impacts."

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