NOAA Winter Outlook: odds favor wetter, colder in the Northwest

Us Winter Forecast: Warmer Across South, Wetter, Cooler In Parts Of North

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia View from the top of the Fire Tower during our off-road RZR tour in December. (photo: Abbey Richards)

SPOKANE, Wash.– The official winter forecast for the nation is out, and it’s pointing to an active one for the Northwest. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), odds are highest for the Pacific Northwest to have a cooler and wetter winter season in 2021-2022.

The Northwest is the only part of the country where NOAA predicts higher odds for both cooler and wetter weather. A warmer winter is forecast across the Southwest, East, and Midwest. Wetter weather is forecast in the Midwest, but drier weather is most likely from Southern California east across Texas and down to Florida.

NOAA 2021-22 winter outlook, chances for wet/dry and warm/cold season

Source: NOAA

NOAA 2021-22 winter outlook, chances for wet/dry and warm/cold season

The Inland Northwest has a 50% chance of a colder winter, a 25% chance of near-average winter temperatures, and a 25% chance of a warmer season. The same odds apply for rain and snow this year; 50% chance of a wetter winter.

These maps of the winter outlook are closely aligned with a typical La Niña winter pattern. La Niña is part of a climate cycle where temperatures fluctuate in the East Pacific Ocean near the Equator. La Niña refers to the cold phase of this cycle. Ocean and atmosphere cycles are closely linked. A change in one sparks a change in the other. We’ve reported for over a month on 4 News Now about how La Niña emerging favors colder and snowier weather here. The NOAA outlook lines up with this assertion.

Another piece of evidence may be emerging for a colder and wetter winter here. Ocean temperatures in the Northeast Pacific are colder than usual this fall.

current ocean temperatures and if they're above or below normal seasonal warmth

Source: NOAA

current ocean temperatures and if they're above or below normal seasonal warmth

In the winter of 2014-15 extremely warm temperatures in this part of the ocean were nicknamed “The Blob” and led to a warm and dry winter in the Northwest while bitter cold and snow invaded the Midwest and the Northeast. Temperatures this year are the opposite, and so is the winter outlook for each of these regions.

RELATED: It’s official: La Niña is coming again this year