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Enjoy this Winter Because the Next Couple May Not Be So Good

It looks like we have a great chance of having a big snow fall this year, if you believe in the effects of the El Nino. The phrase El Nino means, “an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years, characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in late December.” To most people in the Western U.S. it means that we have a good chance of a lot of snow this winter.

As of now, the El Nino effect in the Pacific is the strongest it has ever been. Temperatures are 3 degrees Celsius higher than normal in the ocean. The previous record was in November 1997, with temperatures being 2.8 degrees Celsius higher than normal. In that 1997-1998 ski year Alta had about 600 inches of snow, which wouldn’t be described as ming blowing, but it was above average.

Yet what is important is what happened in the years after. In 1998-1999 Alta had 470 inches, which is below average. In 1999-2000 Alta had 500 inches, again below normal. In 2000-2001 Alta had 470 inches of snow. By 2001-2002, Alta was back over 500 inches. It seems that what often follows a rapid rise in ocean temperatures (El Nino) is a rapid decrease in ocean temperatures (La Nina). That is shown in this chart:

El Nino La Nina

The truth is that an El Nino isn’t going to guarantee us a blow out winter. However, if you believe in El Nino, should probably believe in what comes after… And that doesn’t look good.

So, the Park Rag’s advice is to live this winter like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, there will be a tomorrow. It just may be four years away.


1 Comment

Walt Wehner

El Nino doesn’t usually have that much affect on northern UT. Good info here for weather geeks:


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