PORTLAND, Ore. – Weather experts have been warning us since summer that it could be a cold, wet and possibly wild winter due to a strong La Nina effect in the Pacific Ocean.
While the "wet" part of the latest forecast is no big deal to Northwest residents, snow at low elevations in November is a novelty. But it could happen next week. Maybe. Possibly.
A wet and windy storm system is expected to push into the Northwest today and should move through the area by Thursday night. Upper elevations in the Cascades could see over a foot of new snow and the freezing level will drop to about 1,500 feet.
Then, it may get even colder.
As the weekend approaches, current forecasts for the long Thanksgiving break – admittedly still a week off – show a chance that cold arctic air could settle into the valley floor. Mix in some moisture and you could have a White Thanksgiving.
The forecast is apparently enough for the Oregon Department of Transportation and local municipalities to start getting vehicles ready, put crews on standby alert and pay close attention to the latest forecasts in case winter gets an early start this year.
Weather-obsessed Web Producer Scott Sistek with our sister station KOMO in Seattle had this to say about La Nina back in October:
"But this season, La Nina is coming on hard. [Steve Pierce, the Vice President of Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society] says we have set a record from the fastest transition from El Nino -- where we were even in late spring -- to La Nina, and current La Nina measurements have never been this strong in early fall.
While La Ninas do not guarantee arctic outbreaks or blizzards, history indicates chances are higher of more frequent snow events during La Nina winters, and mountain snowpacks should be above normal. Skiers should rejoice, but city planners should probably keep those snow plow operators on speed dial this winter, just in case :)"
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