With El Nino in effect, how much snow and other craziness should we expect this winter?

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Snow in Buckley, Sunday Nov 17th 2015 (photo by David Bond)

SEATTLE – Skiers and snowboarders are beside themselves with the recent snow in the mountains and talk of area ski resorts opening this week.

But that excitement is also met with hesitation thanks to the looking arrival of “El Nino,” the warmer than average weather pattern that we are locked into until spring.

So, will the heavy snow in the mountains continue all winter?

The short answer: probably not.

Logan Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, spoke about it with Q13 on Tuesday.

“Kind of what we have observed in the Pacific Northwest in the past is that the first half of the winter tends to get stormy and wet, and snow levels are a little bit lower, so this is the first half of winter and a lot of times when we see that chance of snow in the mountains,” he said. “However, we get to January and February and into March, we start to see the storm track being active, we get a lot of storms coming here, a lot of rain, however that snow level tends to be a little bit higher.”

So get out and enjoy the snow while it’s here, because the typical El Nino winter will see that snow dwindle as rain and warmer than normal temperatures remain steady.

The good news?

Johnson said we should expect more snow this year than last.

“What we saw last year was a huge, out of the ordinary anomaly; a very unusual occurrence,” he said. “Really, there’s no way that we’re going to see that type of snowfall again this year, no matter what we get it’s going to be better than last year.”

The latest weather models indicate that a “Neutral” weather pattern will replace El Nino late next spring into summer. That could allow for a normal summer, but often leads to more flooding in the fall.