Climatologists Predict Colder Winter
PUBLICATION: Goldendale Sentinel, WA print edition
Klickitat County residents should brace themselves for more of the harsh weather conditions that hit the region this week, weather experts said on Monday.
In fact, winter will be colder than average throughout the state of Washington this year, climatologists predicted.
“The temperatures for the entire state of Washington are looking like they’re going to be below normal as compared to other winters,” said Karin Bumbaco, assistant state climatologist with the Washington Climate Office.
Models from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), Bumaco said, indicate the chance of a colder-than-average winter to be 40 percent. She added that 30-year averages show January to be the coldest month.
The first snow of the year hit the Gorge over the weekend, covering towns from Bickleton to White Salmon in blankets of white powder.
Between Friday and Monday afternoon, the Pendleton Weather Forecast Office recorded 10.9 inches of snow and temperatures fell to single digits in the evenings.
On Monday, the Goldendale School District announced a full closure and other county districts had delayed openings, including Centerville, Roosevelt, White Salmon, and Wishram. In Klickitat, buses were put on snow routes.
The arctic-blown system stretched across other parts of the state as well, and into Oregon and Idaho. Near Puget Sound, all-time low temperatures were recorded for this time of year.
Climatologists forecast another storm to hit Wednesday and Thursday.
In terms of snowfall for the rest of the year, meteorologists are still undecided about how much 2009 will bring. The CPC outlook for January-February-March has chances of below, equal to, or above average snowfall, listed as the same.
“We’re still trying to figure out what system we’re in,” said Doug Weber, meteorologist with Pendleton’s National Weather Service office. “It’s hard to predict that right now.”
Weber said last year’s La Niña pattern brought large amounts of precipitation, but whether or not that pattern will reemerge is unclear.
Although a few CPC models have suggested cooler ENSO conditions (EL Niño-Southern Oscillation) could develop and “result in a weak La Niña,” according to the state climate office website, it was dubbed “very unlikely.”
The majority of forecasts show neutral conditions continuing through spring, according to the website.
Last month, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation District installed a snow and precipitation monitoring device called a SNOTEL outside Goldendale on Satus Pass, near the headwaters of the Klickitat River.
The site, which stands at 5,300 feet and is called Indian Rock, monitors snow depth, precipitation, and temperature. This week, it recorded lows reaching four degrees below zero.
“The system that’s coming down is a very, very cold, arctic system,” said Weber on Friday, just before the storm. “They’re going to get plenty of snow from this system, that’s for sure, and that’s going to stay around for awhile, even if it does warm up.”
As for how severe the colder temperatures will be compared to average, experts could not say.
“Only time will tell,” said Bumbaco.
This article was originally published in the Goldendale Sentinel newspaper. Goldendale, Washington. Photo with permission from Pixabay.