September 17, 2012
It’s been quite a year! Summer began late but seems to be persisting. But let me break the news to you: winter is coming soon!
Below is my forecast for “home” — the Willamette Valley. But overall conditions will be similar for most of northwestern Oregon and southwest Washington.
Every year for the last 20 I have issued a fall-winter “climate” forecast at this time. I don’t predict day-to-day conditions (“weather”) but rather overall averages (“climate”). Here’s what I predicted last year, and what happened:
What I said: continued warm and dry for most of the month — above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation..
What happened: nailed it! The month was hotter than an average August, and very dry.
What I said: dry, mild first half, cooler and wetter second half, but all told a mild and relatively dry month.
What happened: the month was mild, but not dry. Almost three inches of rain fell – slightly below average, but not exactly “dry.”
What I said: a quiet November with considerable valley fog, with active weather beginning in December and continuing into February. Low elevation snow most likely in late January and early February.
What happened: November didn’t have much fog, but was “quiet.” December was quiet and foggy. The real active weather began in January, when we had almost twice the rain of an average January, plus some snow in mid-month. February was “dull,” but March got crazy, with lots of rain and wind.
What I said: drier than average but rather cool.
What happened: Cool, yes, but wet, wet, wet!
Summary: all in all, I did okay. Nailed some, missed some.
This year’s forecast:
This year we are watching the tropical Pacific (as always) and see weak El Niño conditions occurring. El Niño conditions tend to bring us drier- and warmer-than-average winters. The Climate Prediction Center (NOAA) is predicting the following for our area:
September-November: average temperatures, below-average precipitation.
December – February: above-average temperatures, average precipitation
March-May: average temperatures, below-average precipitation
My forecast is based largely on the tropical Pacific, but I also look at similar years in the past, since “history tends to repeat itself.” Here’s what I predict:
September: continued warmer and drier than average
October: mild and dry first half but stormy second half
November: just the opposite of October: stormy mild first half but and dry second half
December: relatively dry and mild but with valley fog
January: similar to December
February: active month, with considerable rain; 50-50 chance of snow
March: wet, windy and wild
April: a dry and mild second half
May: dry and mild
We’ll see who’s right!