Looking back at the large amounts of snow we have had on the ground at this time of year in past years, many are wondering why this year is so different. We are in the midst of a La Niña weather pattern, which should be bringing us a wetter and colder winter. Where is it?
Last year, January began with 10 inches of snow on the ground at my measuring spot north of the airport, and by mid-January, the total jumped to 17 inches of snowpack. That jump has not happened this year; we are currently sitting at between 10 and 11 inches of snow in that same spot. Both the depth of snow and the amount of water it contains today are almost exactly as it was at the beginning of January 2020 and only a little more than the beginning of January this year. We have just not had one of those big multiple highway-closing snow events that tend to show up this time of year. When good batches of moisture come in from the Pacific Ocean, our temperatures have been hovering near the freezing mark, which doesn’t favor a lot of snow, but a wet wintry mix instead. Storm after storm has developed that way this season. La Niña has brought the moisture our way, but not the cold. That strong northward bend in the jet stream that brings very cold arctic air our way has failed to develop. At least so far.
Long term forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center are still saying that colder temperatures are in store along with continuing moisture. And the Old Farmer’s Almanac cites March as the month we will have way above average precipitation and way below average temperatures. so don’t give up hope for some serious snow just yet. The winter is young.