SEATTLE - Winter last year was wild with a lot more snow in the mountains, and much colder temperatures in the lowlands. But this is a new year. And weather can change on a dime.
Jay Albrecht, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service says they’re predicting a winter with near normal temperatures and maybe more precipitation. After Christmas, the region could be cooler and wetter than normal, he says.
“Even if we have above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get above normal snowfall in the lowlands because it could be 35 degrees and raining, and that would be below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.”
He doesn’t believe we’ll see another winter like 2008 when Seattle got 20 inches of snow, virtually shutting the city down. Nor does expect big extremes.
Albrecht tells us that the extreme winters we’ve seen were in the 50s and 60s. January of 1950 saw temperatures below freezing for a month, including a low temperature of 0 degrees. January of 1969 brought the region it’s biggest recorded snowfall: 68 inches.
Now the current forecasts can change depending on if we have another La Niña this year. Q13 News Chief Meteorologist Walter Kelley tells us that there’s a 55-to-65 percent chance of that.
Here’s a look at these weather service precipitation probability maps. The map, from October through December, shows the Puget Sound region on the edge of a bit more rain or snow.
NOAA Precipitation Model, Oct-Dec 2017
Compare that to the second map, from January to March, where Western Washington gets farther into the green.
NOAA Precipitation Model, Jan-Mar 2018
Remember, forecasting weather is just that -- a forecast. Just like the quote “there’s no crying in baseball,” there are no guarantees in long-range forecasting.
We checked out the Old Farmer’s Almanac where they have predicted a colder winter than last year. The writers write that their prognostication has to do with the low solar activity. Michael Steinberg, an author for the publication, writes that they found a significant relationship between periods of lower solar activity and colder temperatures across the planet.
They also predict a drier winter for the Pacific Northwest to the west of the mountains. On the east side, they say cold and snowy. Their predictions can be found over at almanac.com.
The bottom line for Western Washington is that things will not be far from normal.
"Sure we will have winter storms -- just not as bad as last year," said Walter.
He and Albrecht want to stress that no matter the weather, you should be prepared.
Walter says clean your gutters, check drains and aim them away from your foundation. And he wants to remind everyone to drive slower in the rain and snow.
Whatever the weather, Q13 News is prepared to bring you the most up-to-date forecasts, both on TV and here at q13fox.com. And one last piece of advice from Walter, “Go have fun in the great Pacific Northwest.”