La Nina ‘watch’ doesn’t necessarily mean bad winter for Western Washington

SEATTLE – All this rain and the first snow in the mountains has many people wondering how our winter will pan out.

Back in December, it looked like Christmas postcard weather in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.  You remember our wet, cold, and long winter — the worst one in 32 years.

“Once it snows and ices up, you can’t get out of the driveway,” said one driver.

Then we embarked on sweltering heat this summer, just weeks ago.

“Pretty hot, tired — makes you want to go home and go to sleep,” James Jones said.

“It’s absolutely miserable, this warm, warm day you kind of do what you can; we have a fan,” Alexander Strandoo said.

Fast forward to today and we’ve experienced hail, snow, and rain.

“The green stuff, orange, and red -- these are all showers,” National Weather Service forecaster Doug McDonnal said as he pointed to his computer screens.

They’re all over it at the National Weather Service in Seattle

“There are lots of things that influence our weather,” said McDonnal.

McDonnal says that includes El Nino.  He says that’s what we had before last winter, which usually brings dry weather and warmer temperatures, but…

“But somewhat unusual for that, we had our wettest winter on record,” said McDonnal.

The Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch advisory for this winter, which means…

“We tend to be cooler than normal and wetter than normal during Las Ninas and we tend to have above-normal snowpack,” said McDonnal.

But from our recent history we know Western Washington bucks the trend.

“The winters that we get here are influenced by El Nino or La Nina but not necessarily determined by them outright,” said McDonnal.

McDonnal says that La Nina watch that turned into a Twitter firestorm isn’t a predictor for what’s to come.

“We’re actually forecasting a likelihood of above normal temperatures and I think that’s because the La Nina signal is very weak at this point,” said McDonnal.

So what does this all mean for our winter ahead?

“It’s premature to say we’re going to have a bad winter,” said McDonnal.

Still, McDonnal says now is the time to get your tires checked, clean out the gutters and get prepared for winter no matter how bad or mild it may be.