NOAA 2002-R219
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The Pacific Northwest will feel El Niño’s influence during the 2002-03 winter in the form of drier and warmer-than-normal conditions, but climate and weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say the region still could face damaging storms. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

Wayne Higgins of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., will tell Seattle’s emergency managers and other local officials at a climate workshop tomorrow that El Niño’s impact in the region will be weaker than the 1997-98 version.

NOAA’s Seattle weather forecast office is sponsoring the Western Washington Media and Emergency Management Workshop for partners, customers, and the media at the NOAA Western Regional Center campus at Sand Point on Thursday, Oct. 10, from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m., Pacific.

“The current El Niño, while still holding the potential to bring strong storms, will continue the trend of below-average precipitation in the region,” said Higgins, CPC’s principal scientist and an expert in long-range forecasting. Higgins added El Niño is at moderate strength.

NOAA issued its official winter outlook on Sept.12, which predicted drier-than-average conditions in the Northwest, including Washington, northeast Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, western parts of North Dakota, and northwest South Dakota; drier-than-average conditions throughout the northern Rockies and the Ohio Valley states; wetter-than-average conditions along the southern tier states; and warmer-than-average conditions along the northern tier of the United States.

Christopher Hill, meteorologist in charge of NOAA’s National Weather Service Seattle forecast office, said "the impact of a moderate El Niño on winter precipitation in the Pacific Northwest is not straightforward. There is a slight tendency for precipitation to average a little below normal, but that does not mean we won’t see significant storms with heavy precipitation and flooding.”

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is responsible for issuing seasonal climate outlooks for one to thirteen months in the future. The Climate Prediction Center is one of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which is a part of NOAA’s National Weather Service. NOAA Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories and operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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Editor's Note: For graphics that depict the long range forecast: