Forecasts and Planning Tools

Seasonal to Interannual Forecasts

Climate Outlook

Archive Copy - July 2006

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The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) translates global-scale climate forecasts and conditions into regional-scale climate forecasts for Pacific Northwest (PNW) resource managers and the general public. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most important factor for seasonal forecasting, changing the odds for different types of winter and spring weather (e.g. warmer/drier, cooler/wetter) in the PNW. Another important climate variable for Pacific Northwest climate is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The climate outlook also provides the basis for natural resource forecasts, including the CIG's annual streamflow forecasts.


What's Next for the Pacific Northwest?

Summer 2006
Updated July 25, 2006

The climate outlook is reviewed after the 10th of each month and updated as needed.

June was exceptionally warm throughout the Pacific Northwest, with the mean temperature in the 93rd percentile for the 112 year record maintained by the National Climatic Data Center. The year-to-date mean temperature is in the 89th percentile. June precipitation continued the Spring pattern of normal to moderately above normal precipitation.

Current indicators for Pacific climate:

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The tropical Pacific Ocean is near normal conditions for this season. The forecast by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is for the Pacific to remain in ENSO-neutral conditions through Spring of 2007, with the following probabilities:a 60% chance of ENSO neutral conditions, a 35% chance of an El Niño, and a 5% chance of a La Niña.

Recent history of forecasts. In the fall of 2005, most forecasts of ENSO called for continued near-neutral conditions. However, some conditions indicative of a cool phase of ENSO (La Niña) developed during the winter. Models underestimated both the rapidity of development of cool conditions and the rapidity of their recent demise.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). North Pacific SST anomalies trended towards the negative PDO pattern in September, October, and November 2005, but the PDO index has been of small magnitude and positive sign in December through June. The Pacific North America atmospheric circulation index was significantly negative in May and June, consistent with a weakening of the westerlies (winds) over the central North Pacific, but these circulation anomalies have not as yet influenced the PDO. The expected continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through Spring 2007 suggest that the PDO will remain near neutral through this forecast period (see note on PDO forecasting).

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What will it mean for the PNW in coming months?

The seasonal outlooks for the remainder of summer and early fall suggest a tilt in the odds toward warmer conditions in southern Idaho, and the winter forecast is for warmer than normal conditions over the Northwest. In the absence of strong El Niño or La Niña conditions, the forecast models offer only marginal skill in predicting precipitation, and so no guidance is provided here.

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Pacific Northwest Resource Outlooks

Climate Prediction Resources

The links below provide access to the latest information on the current state of global and regional climate, as well as links to global and regional climate predictions.

The Current State of the Tropical Pacific

Predictions of Tropical Pacific Conditions

The Current State of the Globe

Current and Predicted U.S. Conditions

Pacific Northwest Conditions

State Climatologist Offices

Special Areas