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Department of Emergency Management


Press Release Detail

Wednesday, January 28, 2015  10:11

Issued: Friday, July 30, 2010  00:00

La Nina to Impact Washington

   According to the Climate Prediction Center, an office under the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), La Nina conditions have begun to show signs of development in June and are continuing into early July. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society states that there is a 58% probability for developing La Nina Conditions and a 41% probability for remaining neutral. The probability for La Nina increases to 62% in the August-October season and continues into early 2011. The last La Nina period was in the Fall of 2007-Spring of 2008.
   What impacts do La Nina conditions have upon the Pacific Northwest? La Nina winters bring cooler, wet conditions, vigorous storms and mountain snow. Pacific storms become difficult to track and forecast and are more changeable. The Jet stream will have severe fluctuations which will allow colder Arctic air to drop down into Western Washington, thus producing more frequent, cold winter days and nights.
   In an article “Cascade Snowfall and Snow Depth During El Nino and La Nina Seasons”, by Amar Andalkar, there have been 12 weak La Nina periods since 1950-2010 and 10 strong periods. In weak La Nina years, the Cascades and Coastal Mountains tend to get normal to below normal snowfall and depth. In strong La Nina periods, the Cascades tend to receive 20-40% more snowfall and depth. During the La Nina period of 1998-1999, Mt Baker reported 1140” of snowfall. A new worlds record for one season! That’s 95 feet!!
   Nationwide, La Nina will impact the Atlantic Hurricane season and bring colder temperatures to the Northeast U.S. The high altitude winds associated with the previous El Nino period, helped to destroy tropical storms before they could develop into hurricanes. This potential La Nina period will have reduced high altitude winds which allow tropical storms and hurricanes to flourish. NOAA has predicted that this Atlantic storm season could be worse than 2005 when Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma all slammed the Florida and Gulf regions of the United States. NOAA has forecast up to 23 storms.    8-14 of these storms will reach hurricane levels and 3-7 will become major hurricanes. June has already produced Hurricane Alex, the first June hurricane in 15 years!
   If La Nina does fully develop, it could mean a very cold, wet and harsh fall and winter for Western Washington. Now is the time to become Pro Active and prepare yourself, your family, home and pets for long term power outages, possible flooding, colder weather and frequent storms. Go to the Grays Harbor Emergency Management website at: for information on how to become Pro Active or call us at (360) 249-3911.