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National Weather Service gives winter outlook

Winter is getting closer and closer. The National Weather Service recently released its winter outlook for this season.

It’s predicting above average precipitation and above average temperatures for most of Idaho.

Dan Valle, lead forecaster for the NWS, said above average precipitation is good news for farmers come spring.

“This is a good forecast for farmers,” Valle said. “More water, more snow up in the mountains is always a great forecast for the farmers. It means that eventually that snowfall runs off and melts and fills up the reservoirs.”

Valle said the amount of snowfall running off from higher elevations should be pretty good.

“Snowfall amounts in Pocatello and Idaho Falls area, usually we average about 30 to 35 inches of snowfall on a normal given year. The forecast for this year is just slightly above that.”

Higher elevations, like ski resorts, should get above normal snowfall as well, Valle said.

Valle said one potential problem with a warm, wet pattern is that it changes the freezing points. That can sometimes cause more ice to form. For example, more rainfall with warmer temperatures cooling off quickly can cause rain to freeze on to the roads. That can, of course, make driving conditions bad.

Valle said the weather service bases its outlook on sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It monitors the main jet stream, which can either be an El Nino or La Nina. This season will be a La Nina, meaning cooler and wetter.

Valle said it’s important to remember that the outlook isn’t a guarantee. Weather is constantly changing. He said right now, La Nina is forcing the jet stream further north than usual. If that moves back south, it could change the temperatures and precipitation we see here in Idaho.

To see more on the NWS’s winter outlook, go to its website.

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