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La Niña Benedictions

Pray for snow, well in advance of ski season, because it looks like a wet one could be ahead

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As the summer engulfs Oregon like a tableside service flambé in a fine dining restaurant, rumors of our precipitous savior, La Niña, are circulating. While a good portion of modern Central Oregonians are agnostic or atheist in most facets of their life, when it comes to outdoor sports, those same heathens are happy to pray for snow. For any pagan snow enthusiast, or just patrons concerned about serial drought, whatever backyard bloodshed sacrifices they've been making to the halls of Valhalla (in the privacy of their own overpriced homes) are paying off. Sources say it's going to be back to back La Niña winters for Bend and the Pacific Northwest. La Niña is, of course, the weather pattern that brings more moisture—and as a consequence, more snow.

Pray for snow in the deserts, in the mountains and on the plains... for skiers and for alleviating the ongoing drought. - K.M. COLLINS
  • K.M. Collins
  • Pray for snow in the deserts, in the mountains and on the plains... for skiers and for alleviating the ongoing drought.

Snow worshipers will be happy to hear that according to Climate.gov and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, "As things stand with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, neutral conditions are currently present in the tropical Pacific and favored to last through the North American summer and into the fall. But forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center have issued a La Niña Watch, which means they see La Niña likely emerging (~55%) during the September-November period and lasting through winter."

Hooray! Blessed be the fruit. 

Here's how the La Niña Watch scale works:

- La Niña Watch: Issued when conditions are favorable for the development of El Niño or La Niña conditions within the next six months.

- La Niña Advisory: Issued when El Niño or La Niña conditions are observed and expected to continue.

- La Niña Final Advisory: Issued after El Niño or La Niña conditions have ended.

- La Niña Not Active: ENSO Alert System is not active. Neither El Niño nor La Niña are observed or expected in the coming six months.

Here's how experts decide whether La Niña conditions are present:

- Are the average sea surface temperatures in the Niño-3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (5°N-5°S, 120°W-170°W) at least 0.5°C (0.9°F) cooler than average in the preceding month?

- Is there an average anomaly of at least -0.5°C persistent or is expected to persist for five consecutive, overlapping three-month periods?

- Is the atmosphere over the tropical Pacific exhibiting changes commonly associated with La Niña, including one or more of the following:

- Stronger than usual easterly trade winds

- An increase in cloudiness and rainfall over Indonesia and a corresponding drop in average surface pressure

- A decrease in cloudiness and rainfall in the eastern tropical Pacific, and an increase in the average surface pressure

K.M. COLLINS
  • K.M. Collins

Before you get too over the moon about your prayers being answered, remember that when the Northwest is getting precipitation from La Niña, other regions have consequences. The Climate Prediction Center notes La Niña can impact the Atlantic hurricane season by helping make atmospheric conditions more conducive for tropical storms and hurricanes to form in the Atlantic Ocean, and less conducive in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Five named storms have already affected the Atlantic since July.

In addition, if La Niña gifts all her precipitation to us further north, the Southwest will experience further drought. White gold comes at a price.

Now I lay me down to sleep, hail Mary full of grace, and all that jazz. If you were wise enough to get ahead of the curve on your snow prayers, you should probably start ordering winter recreation goods, too. Gear shortages and what not. What if two feet fall before Christmas and you don't have the latest and greatest pow skis?! Better get your orders into Santa now.

One more question: If we are all praying for snow, praying to La Niña, does this confirm that God is a girl? Just saying...

About The Author

K.M. Collins

A native Oregonian, K.M. Collins is a geologist-gone-writer. Covering everything outdoors and a spectrum of journalism, she's a jack of all whitewater sports and her favorite beat is anything river related. Don't blow her cover as a freshwater mermaid amongst humans.

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