BEND, OR -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says there’s a high likelihood a La Niña weather pattern will persist through winter; a warning that has many Central Oregonians bracing for another year of heavy snow.
Marilyn Lohmann is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pendleton. She tells KBND News that Central Oregon's climate is deeply impacted by water temperatures off the west coast of South America. "When there’s a warming of those temperatures, it’s called an El Niño; when there’s a cooling of the temperatures, it’s called a La Niña. And, a lot of people are concerned because if you look back last year, we were in somewhat of a La Niña pattern and everyone remembers what the winter last year was like – a pretty brutal winter that we hadn’t seen in quite a while
." However, she says it's not typical for La Niña, "Each one of them is different. If we review a lot of the years, there’s no set pattern. A lot of the times, on the west side of the Cascades, the patterns are much clearer; but east of the Cascades, not so much."
"Based on the La Niña alone, we can say that there’s about a 65% chance of near to above-average snowfall," says Lohmann. "We should be looking for cooler than normal temperatures, and that’s especially indicated through the months of December, January and February – actually, more into the first part of the year; and, somewhat wetter than normal conditions, and those are general in the January-February timeframe, as well." Which means early 2018 could be similar to early 2017, although she stresses that's note a foregone conclusion. "In a La Niña year average, Bend itself gets 33” of snow. Snowfall in the past can range anywhere between 8.5”, in 2012-2013, up to the 63- almost 64” we saw last year. So, there’s kind of a difference sometimes in the amount of snowfall we get in any given La Niña." The good news: We're unlikely to experience drought conditions.