El Nino May Give Yakima Valley Warmer, Drier Winter

From the Yakima Herald by Donald W. Meyers.

Temperatures may be dropping as fall settles on the Yakima Valley, but climate forecasters say we could be looking at a warmer-than-average winter.

El Niño might warm the Pacific Ocean this winter, which would mean a warmer, possibly drier winter than usual for the area.

“Right now, we’re in a neutral position, which means sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are normal,” said Karin Bumbaco, assistant state climatologist. “But it is pointing to a development of an El Niño by winter.”

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is keeping an eye on the weather as well as reservoir levels, which can be affected by the weather system.

An El Niño occurs when ocean temperatures off South America warm up in the winter. The phenomena gets its name — Spanish for “The Christ Child” — because it occurs around December. The warm water can disrupt weather patterns as a result.

For the Pacific Northwest, El Niño usually means warmer-than-normal temperatures and below-average precipitation.

Yakima typically averages 2 feet of snow a year, with nearly 9 inches of rain, while winter temperatures usually average in the low- to mid-30s, according to data from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

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