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By Bob Valen 

What will winter bring?


I’ve licked my finger, held it up to the air; now I can tell you what winter will bring.

If only it were that simple! So, let me share what is being stated by our federal agencies that work in the arena of weather prediction. First, let’s take a look at what is going on in the Tropical Pacific Ocean — down there where La Niña and El Niño are found.

That area, down there in the Tropical Pacific Ocean, is called the ENSO — El Niño Southern Oscillation. What’s happening currently is that sea surface temperatures are dropping and there is a large, deep pool of cool water lurking below the surface too. Generally, that means possible La Niña development. Back in mid-September the Climate Prediction Center issued, in part, this: “[T]he North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) indicate[s] the formation of La Niña as soon as the Northern Hemisphere fall 2017. Forecasters favor these predictions in part because of the recent cooling of surface and sub-surface temperature anomalies, and also because of the higher degree of forecast skill at this time of year. In summary, there is an increasing chance (about 55-60 percent) of La Niña during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2017-18.”

Well, what does a La Niña mean for us folk here in the Pacific and Inland Northwest? First, let’s keep in mind that ENSO impacts weather globally, not just here. In general terms, during a La Niña event we have seen cooler and wetter winters. Yet here’s what the Climate Prediction Center is predicting our temperatures and precipitation to be for October, November and December: temperatures will be above normal; precipitation will be above normal too. Making long-term predictions, even with supercomputers, can be a die roll. I’ll leave it to you and your current copy of Farmer’s Almanac to draw your own conclusions.

Now for September weather data results from my home weather station. On the 2nd we had our high temperature of 99˚F, then a low of 40.3˚ on the 15th. Around mid-September, our temperatures really started to drop off. Precipitation was on the light side. I had four days of measurable rainfall: the 19th through the 22nd. We had a total of 0.11 inches. This little bit of rainfall busted a just-over-90-day run without any rainfall here at the home weather station.

Now, lets cast our eyes skyward. Here is what our friends say at EarthSky: “Three of the five bright planets — Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury — are evening planets, at least nominally, but only Saturn is clearly visible after nightfall in October 2017. Meanwhile, Jupiter and Mercury are — for the most part this month — lost in the sun’s glare. The other two bright planets — Venus and Mars — can be found in the morning sky, before sunup, through this month.” If you would like to visit the EarthSky website:

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