La Nina may bring more severe weather

La Nina may bring more severe weather
MOSCOW - This time of year we usually talk about Santa Claus coming to town, but this fall we've heard a lot about La Nina coming to town.

University of Idaho meteorologist John Abatzaglou explained what it has meant and might mean.

"La Nina actually has it's roots in the tropical Pacific," said Abatzaglou. "You might ask yourself the question 'well why should I care about the tropical Pacific?' It turns out La Nina involves kind of a sloshing of water in between the Indonesian continent and Peru. So during a La Nina, you have much cooler ocean temperatures off the coast of Peru."

And those cooler Pacific temperatures can push the jet stream right to our front door. La Nina winters often bring cooler than normal temperatures and above normal precipitation to the Northwest. And Abatzaglou said record snowfall last month was a perfect reminder that La Nina is hanging out.

And he says as quickly as the last big system left us, another could move in.

"What we're looking at this year is possibly the strongest La Nina we've seen in 30, maybe 50 years," said Abatzaglou. "La Nina actually translates in Spanish to "the girl." I think in the Pacific Northwest the translation is 'the snow shovel.'"

Abatzoglou said the erratic snow pattern is not part of global climate change but rather a sign of a normal weather variation pattern.

But the big question for many right now is if it will be a white Christmas.

"There might be a good possibility for that to happen in the Palouse area," said Abatzaglou. "At lower elevations I'm not sure we're going to get cold enough to get the right combination for snow on the 25th."