Seasonal to Interannual Forecasts
On This Page
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?
Updated July 21, 2008 (posted July 25)
The climate outlook is reviewed monthly and updated as needed.
The cooler than normal temperatures that dominated the Pacific Northwest (PNW) during March through May (more information) were replaced in late June by normal and well above-normal temperatures throughout the region (temperature, departure; High Plains Regional Climate Center). July PNW temperatures through 7/17 were in excess of 1 and 2°C above the 1971-2000 normal and they, along with the absence of rainfall (total, departure), contributed to 1) several wildland fires along the eastern sides of the Cascade range and north of Spokane (July 18, USDA Forest Service; Northwest Interagency Coordination Center), and 2) drought conditions in central Washington, central Oregon, and southern Idaho (July 15, Drought Monitor). Normal and below normal temperatures are observed along the Washington and Oregon coasts.
The coastal ocean temperatures continue to be exceptionally cold (1985-97 climatology, animation; NOAA Coastwatch). June SST anomalies exceeded -2°C along the Washington coast and -4°C along the Oregon coast. Pressure-based upwelling indices through 18 May show April and May upwelling (positive values) that exceed the typical range (blue shading) along the Washington and Oregon coasts (NOAA Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory). The cooler than normal coastal conditions are part of a pattern of basin-scale anomalies that has been present since last Fall and Winter (15 June through 12 July, 21 October 2007 through 19 January 2008; NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory).
Current indicators for Pacific climate
El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Last winter's cold ENSO peaked in January (Niño 3.4 (5N-5S, 170-120W) sea-surface temperature (SST) anomaly of -1.86°C, 1971-2000 climatology), and it has been diminishing in amplitude in subsequent months. The June Niño 3.4 value is -0.31°C, and the April-May-June mean is -0.58°C, which the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is characterizing as "ENSO-neutral" (10 July). Fourteen of the 20 models polled by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society predict a continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through at least December-January-February (Niño 3.4 <0.5°C in magnitude).
Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The cold polarity of the PDO has been present since September 2007, and has intensified in amplitude during the last 3 months (April-May-June), consistent with the cold coastal anomalies described above. PDO index values for April, May, and June were -1.52, -1.37, and -1.34 standard deviations, respectively (based on 1900-93 climatology; note that values greater than a standard deviation in magnitude are larger than 68% of the values for a normally-distributed variable). The NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory's statistical Linear Inverse Model PDO forecast is for a continuation of cold PDO throughout the rest of 2008 (forecast).
For More Information
- Current conditions: weekly NRCS drought monitor/snowpack update reports
- Read the latest expert analysis of the current state of ENSO from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center
- European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts ENSO forecast
- View the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction's ENSO QuickLook
- How is an El Niņo/La Niņa event defined?
What does the outlook mean for the PNW in coming months?
The seasonal climate forecast by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is for a greater than 33% chance of below normal August-September-October temperatures for western Oregon and Washington, a greater than 40% chance for below normal temperatures at the Oregon coast, and an equal chance of below, equal to, or above normal temperatures for the remainder of the PNW. The precipitation forecast for the same period is for a greater than 30% chance of below normal precipitation over much of the region, exceeding 40% in eastern Oregon and Washington, and western Idaho. Southeast Idaho, northwest Oregon, and western Washington are forecast to have an equal chance of below, equal to, or above normal precipitation.
The forecasts should be interpreted as the tilting of odds towards general categories of conditions, and should not be viewed as a guarantee that the specified conditions will be realized. The precipitation forecasts have marginal skill during ENSO neutral seasons like this one.
For More Information
Pacific Northwest Resource Outlooks
- Water Resources Forecasts (streamflow and other hydrologic conditions)
- Salmon survival forecast
- Forecast of extreme weather events
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
- Real-time data from moored ocean buoys (from NOAA’s TAO array)
- ENSO diagnostic discussion (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- NOAA El Niño and La Niña definitions (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- Weekly ENSO update (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- ENSO Quick Look (from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction)
- Monitoring El Niño/La Niña (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
Predictions of Tropical Pacific and North Pacific Conditions
- Seasonal Niño3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly plume forecasts (from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts)
- Statistical Probabilistic ENSO Predictions (from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction)
- Sea surface temperature forecasts (from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction)
- Experimental PDO and Pacific Seasonal Forecasts (from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory)
The Current State of the Globe
- Climate diagnostics bulletin (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- Accumulated daily precipitation time series graphs (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- Daily global and regional precipitation analysis (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- Index of Climate Prediction Center’s climate monitoring activities and data
Current and Predicted U.S. Conditions
- Monthly to seasonal climate outlooks (from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
- State of the Climate report (from the National Climatic Data Center)
- Northern Hemisphere snow report (from the National Climatic Data Center)
- Spring and summer streamflow forecasts (from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
- Drought in the US
- Water supply forecasts and snowpack conditions for the Western U.S.
- Large fire incidents (from the National Interagency Fire Center)
- Experimental seasonal fire risk forecasts (from the U.S. Forest Service)
- Western U.S. climate conditions and forecasts (from the Western Regional Climate Center)
Pacific Northwest Conditions
- Temperature and precipitation maps (from the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
- Western Washington water and snowpack (from Seattle City Light)
- Seattle water supply conditions and outlook (from Seattle Public Utilities)
- Wildland fires (from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center)
- Coastal conditions (from NOAA’s CoastWatch)
- monthly snowpack maps for the region (from the National Resource Conservation Service)
State Climatologist Offices
- Drought in central and southwest Asia (from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction)