Snowvember in Seattle – Freezing Cold Temperatures and SNOW!

What’s with Seattle’s FREEZING Cold Temperatures and SNOW in November?  La Niña, Spanish for “the Girl” is behind Seattle’s out of the ordinary weather conditions.

La Niña is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño, meaning “the boy,” and part of the overall El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. 

Scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes the back and forth dance between La Niña and El Niño, only that it repeats every 3-7 years, but rarely in the same way.

During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean are lower than normal by 3 to 5 degrees. Changes in ocean temperatures lead to changes in air circulation, which can affect weather thousands of miles away.

High-pressure systems often form off the coast of Alaska, directing the jet stream north and funneling cold air from Canada into Washington, hence the reason why rain turned to snow in the Seattle area this week.

For the Pacific Northwest, La Niña tends to bring cooler and wetter than normal weather conditions for winter and the odds of bringing cold and wet together at the same time are much higher.  The coldest temperatures usually happen around January.

The pattern is reversed during an El Niño, when water along the equator is warmer than usual and where the latter corresponds instead to a higher sea surface temperature.  El Niño is famous due to its potentially catastrophic impact on the weather along both the Chilean and Australian coasts. La Niña is often preceded by a strong El Niño.

Right now, the eastern Pacific is about 3.6 degrees cooler than normal. “That’s pretty strong,” said state climatologist Nick Bond. “It’s a solid bet that there’s going to be a La Niña through the winter.

So far, Snowvember has been somewhat of a nightmare for commuters and businesses across the Puget Sound region. According to Dan Coon, a Washington State Patrol spokesman, troopers have responded to 1,557 collisions statewide since Monday.  

I’m not sure if it’s a record, but it’s a whole heck of a lot of ‘em,” said Coon. If drivers don’t want to be among the collusion statistics, they should slow it down in this type of weather recommends Coon.

Officials at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) encourage both homeowners and business owners to start preparing for the winter season.

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Article Sources:
The Seattle Times
NOAA
MYNorthwest

KOMO News

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