When this wacky warm weather first started plaguing our touted La Nina winter the Northwest Avalanche Center didn’t know how to break the bad news that sustained rain was on its way so they broke it in a poem. This morning a new much more pleasantly
received poem arrived.
"Nina oh Nina, it's on its way back, for us to recover the snow that we lack. As with most wishes, it comes with some pain, as dangers rise but not from rain. Two days ahead of dry slow warming, should provide weak layers for future storming. The upper ridge leaves Friday for points to the east, time to go from famine to feast. A deep upper low settles in offshore, to bring strong storms to knock at our door. The weekend promises significant action, as weak surface snow is stressed by compaction. Though substantial snow is what we need, don't be swayed by new powder greed. Check out the snow as stresses rise, & don't let slides be a surprise."
For some people weather forecasts dictate nothing more than if they should be carrying an umbrella or not while walking out to their car or on their lunch break. But for the outdoor enthusiasts it dictates nearly everything you do. Tack
on working in the outdoors industry and suddenly your hobbies, pay check and sanity are directly attached to the weather. Which means if you also live in the Pacific Northwest its going to be a roller coaster. Since you are likely to be checking your forecasts regardless you might as well be checking some worth their salt. Here are a few tips on approaching winter weather and mountain forecasts for the Pacific Northwest.
With the Pacific Ocean, Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and Cascades all bundled up together the Seattle area is one of the tricker places to predict weather in the world. This means you are better off staying away from large automated regional forecasts like Weather.com for the west side of the mountains. They tend to over predict cold weather and precipitation – which for the skier/snowboarder is a let down waiting to happen. Also stay away from 10-15 day out forecasts, during the winter they are pretty much worthless.
- Northwest Avalanche Center (nwac.us)- This is not only a great resource for avalanche reports but give some of the best mountain forecasts out there. Also their “Telemetry” section will give you hourly snow depths at all your favorite Washington resorts and some backcountry locations.
- NOAA (noaa.gov) – NOAA forecasts are available for each of the Washington ski resort regions. This is where you get your winter advisories and warning from. They have simple and easy to read forecasts Make sure to see what elevation the forecasts are for though because it might not be for the base area like you would think.