The Pacific Northwest Might Experience a Warmer Than Average Winter, New Forecast Says

That’s thanks to a warming trend in the Pacific Ocean.

(Joe Riedl)

Portland experienced record-breaking heat this summer, and it looks like winter could be unusually warm as well.

A new winter weather forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that an El Niño—or a warming of sea-surface temperatures—is likely to develop on the Pacific Ocean in the coming months. An El Niño, Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported, could make for a warmer, drier Pacific Northwest winter.

The NOAA forecast does not indicate less rain in the area, but notes that drought conditions are "likely to persist" in portions of the Pacific Northwest.

Related: Oregon Reaches Critical Drought Levels After Driest Summer West of the Cascades in 40 Years

The last time an El Niño hit the U.S. was in 2015. That event, Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, said in a recorded press conference, was one of the strongest in the last 60 years. In 2015-16, the nation also experience the warmest winter in recorded history.

"We're not expecting a repeat of that winter," Halpert said, "as this El Niño is expect to be much weaker than that."

Nick Bond, a Wash.-based climatologist, tells OPB that the snowpack will likely be below normal in Pacific Northwest mountains this winter. But, he adds, those with Christmas ski plans shouldn't cancel their trips, as El Niño's effects aren't likely to be felt until later in the winter.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.