Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Wet La Niña Winter On The Way

Kristian Foden-Vencil October 5, 2010 Portland, OR

Oregon has enjoyed some wonderful sunny days over the last couple of weeks. But as Kristian Foden-Vencil reports forecasters predict it's going to be an especially wet winter.

Last year, winter was pretty warm and comparitively dry. The region was moving out of an El Niño year. Now, says Clinton Rockey a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, we're in a La Niña pattern.

Clinton Rockey: "La Niña means we have cooler than usual water in the central and north Pacific ocean. and what that will bring to us is energized storm track for the winter months and generally speaking that means more rainfall for the Pacific Northwest and of course in the mountains that's going to result in a lot more snowfall."

He says rain will gradually increase now as we go through October. Then the big storms are expected to start in November. That's when the typhoon season ends in the western Pacific -- and moisture from those storms can curl over and come back across the ocean.

Clinton Rockey: "Certainly compared to last year this is going to be wetter. In fact, we haven't seen a wet one now probably for five or six years since we saw one this wet, that we're anticipating."

As for temperatures, he's not as sure where they’re headed. He says with more moisture there'll probably be more clouds, which means warmer nights and colder days.

In Portland, the city transportation department has already scheduled a winter preparedness meeting for next month, in anticipation of a wet winter.

Spokeswoman, Cheryl Cook, says they're also asking people to keep their storm drains clean.

Cheryl Cook: "Prior to a heavy rain fall event, when the forecast calls for it, to get out and stay on the curb with a rake or a pitchfork and check the catch basin nearest your home or your business."

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is also making predictions of a wetter, stormier year, with at least one Arctic outbreak likely.

Up in Seattle, utilities and government agencies have already kicked off a "Take Winter By Storm" campaign -- complete with a web page and a checklist of how to get prepared.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists two really serious weather events in Oregon over the last 20 years. Both involved flooding.

The worst was over the winter of 1996-97 when there was $4 billion dollars worth of damage.