Seasonal to Interannual Forecasts
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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?
Updated October 1, 2008 (posted October 8)
Reviewed October 24 (no further updates made)
The climate outlook is reviewed monthly and updated as needed.
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) experienced near-normal temperatures
and precipitation during June-July-August (JJA) and September, as shown below.
|Temperature||total, departure||total, departure|
|Precipitation||total, departure||total, departure|
In contrast to the climate over land, ocean surface temperatures both along the coast and over the north Pacific exhibited large magnitude anomalies during the past 12 months. Washington and Oregon coastal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were characterized by large cold anomalies from September 2007 through July 2008, with more normal conditions in August 2008 (animation; NOAA Coastwatch). Consistent with these temperature anomalies has been strong upwelling, as documented in satellite wind estimates (animation; red for bringing cold water to the surface) and pressure-based alongshore upwelling indices (Washington [positive values for bringing cold water to the surface]; Oregon; NOAA Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory).
The anomalous coastal conditions have contributed to a strong cold polarity of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (SST anomaly map, PDO definition), with 12 consecutive months of negative PDO values, and the last five months with PDO values exceeding one standard deviation in magnitude (digital values, 1900-93 climatology). [For a normally distributed variable, only 32% of the values exceed one standard deviation in magnitude.].
Current indicators for Pacific climate
El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Last winter's cold ENSO peaked in February (Niño 3.4 (5N-5S, 170-120W) SST anomaly of -1.85°C, 1971-2000 climatology), and it diminished in amplitude in subsequent months. The August and June-July-August mean SST anomalies are 0.21 and 0.02°C, respectively. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center, on 11 September, characterized the present conditions as "ENSO-neutral" (definition, latest report). Seventeen of the 20 ENSO forecast models polled by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society predict a continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through the end of the forecast period (May-June-July of 2009).
Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The cold polarity of the PDO has been present since September 2007, and has intensified in amplitude during the last five months (April through August) (see above). Both the July and August values exceed 1.5 standard deviations in magnitude. The NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory's statistical Linear Inverse Model PDO forecast is for continued cold polarity, but of smaller magnitude, through the end of the forecast period (September 2009) (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 above normal October-November-December temperatures in Idaho, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington; 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 an equal chance of below, equal to, or above normal precipitation. The skill of the precipitation forecast derives from ENSO-related changes in precipitation. The model precipitation forecast has no useful skill in ENSO neutral years, like this one. 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.
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)