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As featured in Ski Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Starting this post has taken some time for me as I have been waiting for over two months to see the latest El Nino numbers. Today it appears that the El Nino that was predicted to become at least a moderate to strong event may in fact not happen at all or be very weak for the entire winter. This does not always mean a non-wet winter and actually the odds for a wetter than normal winter are still in full force. With a La Nina event the driest winters tend to be in store and this is not a La Nina year. In a past post I made mention of the fact that some of the biggest snow years have actually occurred during this exact scenario 1951-2 and 1968-69 being the most recently famous.
My predictions will center on the fact that strong El Nino’s typically bring our precipitation late i.e February through April and that weal El Nino events typically give our winter an early start that then fizzles later in the spring. I think that (with 5 inches of snow on my back deck as I write this) that the winter will be early with good hard storms hitting the Sierra by the middle of November allowing the major Ski and Board resorts to get up and running full tilt by Thanksgiving. The weather should be wet through the Holidays and into late January with major storms battering the Lake Tahoe region until early February. After that all bets are off and I think it will be a warm and dry late winter and early spring. Hope not but that is my thinking.
Here is a list of the biggest Sierra winters and the correlation between El Nino events:
El Niño Winter
2006-2007 / 365 inches
2004-2005 / 562 inches
2002-2003 / 375 inches
1997-1998 / 531 inches
1994 / 661 inches
1993 / 500 inches
1991-1992 / 205 inches
1986-1987 / 212 inches
1982-1983 / 600 inches
Non-El Niño Winter
2008-2009 / 480 inches
2007-2008 / 420 inches
2005-2006 / 650 inches
1995-1996 / 420 inches
1988-1989 / 400 inches
Below is a simple example of the difference between El Nino winter and La Nina winters.
Please read my North Lake Tahoe weather watchers article on his ideas on the similarities of this upcoming winter an the winter of 1951-52
Both of these article argue for an above normal winter with one writer comparing the weak El Nino and some other factors that mirror the epic winter of 1951-52 where all single level and many two stroy homes were literally buried at Lake Tahoe! Maybe that would be too much of a good thing.
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- El Nino’s Return — Climatologists, Oceanographers Track Climate-changing Ocean Pattern (fusionsci-tech.blogspot.com)
- Connections among solar cycle, stratosphere and ocean discovered (scienceblog.com)
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- El Nino weather system to return (telegraph.co.uk)
- El Nino Returns (cliffmass.blogspot.com)
- Should you take a chance on a season ski pass this winter? (cliffmass.blogspot.com)
- Weather Service expects drier Northwest winter (seattletimes.nwsource.com)