And here's how it looked this year
Not a lot of differences. All locations were seeing below normal snow water equivalent values for both years. The Okanogan Highlands and the northern Cascades are doing a little better this year, and things are a little worse elsewhere. Also, notice how poor the snow water numbers are for the southern Washington Cascades and the Oregon Cascades. However, these maps aren't really telling the entire story. Why is that? If we choose to just look at the amount of precipitation which has fallen since October 1st (beginning of the water year) rather than the amount of water in the snowpack the winters are completely different. Here was 2014 through January 19th. Just like the drier than normal snowpack, the precipitation was similarly dry.
|Oct 1 2013-Jan 13 2014 percent of normal precipitation|
|Oct 1-December 2013 temperature departures. Note widespread below normal temperatures|
|Oct 1-Jan 18 temperature departures. Note widespread warmer than normal temperatures.|
|Least 10 snowy Spokane winters through 1/19 since 1949|
|Least 10 snowy Wenatchee winters through 1/19 since 1949|
|Least 10 snowy Holden Village winters through 1/19 since 1949|
For Wenatchee, two of the winters were able to recover to above normal levels after such a slow start to the snow season. Both of those years were ENSO neutral years. During the El Nino years, the numbers were quite meager. The two El Nino winters on the list experienced snowfall of less than an inch through the remainder of the season. On average, less than 5" of snow typically falls during the remainder of the season.
Now onto the ever snowy Holden Village area. The numbers for here spell bad news for heavy snow lovers. Of the 10 least snowy winters through 1/19, none were able to get back to normal. Last year was close (after an astounding and record breaking 142" of snow in February) as was 1989-90. Both of those years were ENSO neutral ones. The trends during an El Nino year are much less promising. Of the 4 El Nino years on the list, none were able to recover to normal levels. Additionally, 3 of the 4 El Nino years saw significantly less snow than normal through the remainder of the winter.
So climotology tells us the odds of recovering from such a slow start to the winter are slim and given our weak El Nino conditions the chances are even slimmer. However, keep in mind that long-term weather forecasting can prove a futile endeavor and ultimately anything can happen.
Through the remainder of the month the weather pattern will not be conducive to adding significant amounts to our snow totals. Although wet weather will likely return by the end of the week, this moisture will be accompanied by unusually warm temperatures at least over the mountains. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks are calling for a good chance of warmer than normal temperatures and average or slightly wetter than normal conditions.
|8-14 day precipitation outlook|
|8-14 day temperature outlook|