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NOAA’s winter forecast is in, and it looks frozen for us

Here's a look at NOAA's winter weather outlook for 2017-18

Meteorologist Mike Halpert with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center discusses what climate conditions are favored where in the U.S. for the 2017-18 winter, and highlights what previous La Niña winters have meant for U.S. snowfall.
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Meteorologist Mike Halpert with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center discusses what climate conditions are favored where in the U.S. for the 2017-18 winter, and highlights what previous La Niña winters have meant for U.S. snowfall.

Remember last winter? Get ready for version 2.0, if the predictions from NOAA’s annual winter weather forecast come true.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday the odds are greater than average for La Niña conditions, which in the Pacific Northwest means a cooler, wetter winter. In fact, the Pacific Northwest has the highest odds of seeing colder than average temperatures.

And that means snow in the higher elevations of the Cascade Mountains.

“If La Niña conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

1019 NOAA winter
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for colder than average temperatures across the Pacific Northwest in 2017-18. NOAA Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Mt. Baker Ski Area is gearing up for the season, which usually begins between Nov. 19-22, depending on the amount and quality of snowfall, officials said on their snow report. Snow levels were at 5,500 feet Thursday – the ski area’s base at Heather Meadows sits at about 4,300 feet.

Last season also brought a La Niña weather pattern, which dumped 866 inches of snow on the ski area – and plenty to the lowlands, too.

Want to get ready? Washington’s Department of Transportation has plenty of tips for winter driving, and suggests you load your car with winter travel gear: tire chains, an ice scraper, jumper cables and road flares.

In the rest of the U.S., wetter-than-average conditions are favored from the northern Rockies to the eastern Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. The southern U.S. is expected to be drier and warmer than usual this winter, NOAA said.

The agency’s winter outlook will be updated on Nov. 16.

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