Outdoors

Forecasters say ski season could be colder, wetter than usual

A Crystal Mountain webcam image from Nov. 18 shows slopes getting closer to being ready for ski season.
A Crystal Mountain webcam image from Nov. 18 shows slopes getting closer to being ready for ski season. Courtesy

Webcam images, long-range forecasts and the Old Farmer’s Almanac are in agreement: It could be a good winter for Northwest skiers and snowboarders.

In August, the 225th edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted above-average precipitation and below-average temperatures — the perfect recipe for snow. And since October, ski area webcams have been beaming promising images to the laptops, smartphones and other devices of Northwest skiers and snowboarders.

Northwest Avalanche Center meteorologist Garth Ferber says there is good reason to be hopeful.

“The deck is slightly stacked for cooler and wetter conditions than normal,” Ferber said.

This is based on the fact that forecasters are predicting a weak La Nina, Ferber said. A La Nina is created by cooling of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. It traditionally creates weather patterns favorable for Northwest skiers and snowboarders.

“We are optimistic any time we hear that it is going to be a light La Nina,” said Tiana Anderson, spokeswoman for Crystal Mountain Resort. “We think it is going to be a good year and we hope that will allow us to move forward with our master development plan.”

As promising as the forecast looks, it’s not a guarantee that this season will be any better than the 2015-16 El Nino that left resorts with plenty of snow. But the odds of it being better than the historically bad winter of 2014-15? “Anything could beat that,” Ferber said.

“Last year was a very solid year, bordering on great,” said Kathleen Goyette, spokeswoman for White Pass. “Lots of skier visits and lots of powder days. I think there is a pretty good chance this will be even better than last year.”

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