La Niña Making Oregon Cool for the Summer
Last summer was Oregon’s hottest on record, bringing about severe wildfires and unusually high amounts of dead fish in the Willamette, Clackamas, and Deschutes Rivers. This summer, however, has been forecasted to have much cooler periods, with temperatures at or below average, thanks to a transition from El Niño to La Niña in the middle of the year.
In an issued climate forecast for May through July, Oregon’s Climate Prediction Center [CPC] stated that the El Niño effect “peaked in the winter” and is now weakening. In 2015 it was El Niño that brought higher than normal temperatures, lessening Mount Hood’s snow supply and warming the water so much that it was nicknamed a “Godzilla” or “Super El Niño.”
Still powerful enough to have brought above average rain and cloud coverage this past May, El Niño has now been predicted to slowly transition to La Niña in the midst of June and remain for the rest of the summer. La Niña is almost the polar opposite of El Niño, with El Niño being the natural warming of Pacific waters and La Niña being the cooling.
The effects of la Niña are “largely kind of a reverse of what we see” due to El Niño, Mike Halpert, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center deputy director, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Brazil should be wet instead of dry. South Africa should be wet instead of dry.”
For the Pacific Northwest and Oregon, this cooling means wetter winters, and according to the CPC, below average temperatures and above average precipitation in the months to come. The effect of La Niña is good news for Oregon, but unfortunate for other areas since it can mean more dry weather and an increased number of hurricanes in the year to come.
“Summer in Oregon is gonna be a lot better this year,” Diana Castaneda ‘19 said. “That’s for sure.”