Western View: This year, it’s La Nina

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

Autumn arrived right on schedule, and after all those years of drought, we’re all wondering just how much rain we will get this winter.

The portents are good; it’s early October and we’ve already had a light dusting of snow in the high country and at least the threat of a few showers in the north valley. But we all know how quickly our hopes can dry up and blow away, as fast as a dust storm in Phoenix.

The weather pundits are all over the map, when it comes to prognosticating the weather this winter. NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says we are having a La Nina year. This makes sense, as El Nino and La Nina are global weather patterns that are somewhat predictable; we know that La Ninas are the result of ocean cooling after an El Nino. So the historical record should help us predict what the weather will be during this year’s La Nina. The problem is, last year’s El Nino was one of the most powerful ever recorded, but it wasn’t typical – we didn’t get slammed with rain like we usually do during a powerful El Nino. So the normal La Nina pattern may not hold, either.

Usually, during La Nina, the northern part of the US has a very wet year, with lots of snowfall and record cold. Southern California is usually a little dry and northern California is a little wet, but it isn’t too extreme. So if that holds, we should have a normal winter, as far as rain goes.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac doesn’t quite agree. They predict a wet December, but a dry January and February, and average March and April. Other experts see things differently. Harris-Mann Climatologgy, a well respected group out of Idaho, thinks we will have a wet February and March, but otherwise normal rain for the rest of the winter. And just to round it out, the New Farmer’s Almanac says we will have an absolutely normal weather year.

My arthritic knee says we will have a windstorm with rain to follow, sometime during the Fresno Fair – it always happens then so its a safe bet. After that? We’ll just have to see what happens. I plan to be ready for rain and snow but enjoy the sunshine.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View for AgNet West.