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La Niña watch issued, what that means for Spokane

La Niña watch issued, what that means...

SPOKANE, Wash. -                     

Recent cool, wet weather has many people wondering how winter will be in Eastern Washington this year. While it's still too early to know for sure, meteorologists say there is potential for another cooler than average winter with above average snow totals.

It's been a year of extremes in the Spokane area. Data recorded between June and August reveals that Spokane saw the third warmest summer on record. On top of that, it was the fifth driest summer on record for Spokane, which included an 80 day stretch with no recorded precipitation.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeremy Wolf said as of Thursday morning, Spokane received 1.21 inches of precipitation. That all fell within the last five days. You can compare that to the normal total for the month, which is .67 in.

With a new month ahead, comes new climatology.

"October is our biggest month of the year as far as change goes. Our normal high temperatures drop from about 68 degrees at the beginning of the month to about 50 degrees at Halloween," Wolf said.

Wolf said it's time to get ready for cooler temperatures. The first snow already fell on some passes and ski slopes across the region, and while there may be slight warmups, expect the mercury to keep dropping.

"We had an anomalous high pressure over us for most of the summer, which is what brought us the record dry streak of 80 days in a row, without any measurable rain, and we had a very warm summer, And then the pattern just changed. The high pressure shifted west, allowing a big area of low pressure to drop down, bringing the much colder weather," Wolf said.

Meteorologists have their eyes on the long-term forecast. Climate prediction centers have already issued a La Niña watch. La Niña favors warmer, drier winters in the southern U.S., along with wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S.

"It's looking more and more likely that a La Niña will develop. And typically with a La Niña, we see a pattern where we get high pressure building up in the South Pacific, with colder air coming down from Canada," Wolf said. "And if La Niña develops, historically, 65% of those bring us near or above normal snowfall. So, we'll see what happens with that," Wolf said.

Wolf said meteorologists will have a better idea of what kind of winter is in store by the end of next month as they continue tracking temperatures.

"The La Niña has the colder water that we monitor for La Niña. That's really a development within the last four to six weeks. So if it continues to get colder over the next month or so, we'll be much more confident in a La Niña," Wolf said.