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A little snow this winter....?

The 2006 'water year', which runs from October through the following September, turned out about normal for Inner Southeast Portland, thanks mainly to a VERY wet January this year - 10.64 inches of rain in that one month alone!

But after that, the year turned pretty dry. Nonetheless, the summer period - July through September - was pretty typical for Inner Southeast since we began keeping daily rain gauge readings at our Westmoreland location in 1997. In fact, the most notable thing about this decade of measurements is how wet summer was in 2004 and 1997!

The three-month totals, going back ten years at our gauge in Westmoreland:

2006 - 1.69'

2005 - 2.31'

2004 - 5.47'

2003 - 1.20'

2002 - 1.04'

2001 - 1.93'

2000 - 1.31'

1999 - 1.90'

1998 - 1.10'

1997 - 4.75'

So much for the recent past in our part of town. What does the rest of the year hold for us?

George Taylor, the State Climatologist employed at Oregon State University, has released his annual fall and winter forecast, which is based on analyzing numerous oceanic and atmospheric conditions, and comparing them to similar years in the past. These 'analog' years often offer the best avenue for predictions, Taylor said.

'One of the key factors is whether we are in any kind of an El Niño or La Niña year,' Taylor said, 'and it is difficult to gauge because different agencies and climatic models don't always agree. In general, most predictions call for a weak El Niño winter - and some of our biggest snow events have occurred during these years.

'Although this is just a guess, I don't think we'll see widespread snow throughout the low elevations, including the Willamette Valley, and the rest of Oregon,' Taylor added. 'But it wouldn't surprise me to see at least one snow event of four or more inches in Portland, especially close to the gorge. Portland could have a big snow year.'

'For skiers, this should be a decent year,' he pointed out. 'Not as good as last year, but decent.'

And what of the 'Old Farmer's Almanac'? For the Pacific Northwest, the venerable publication, which traces its origins back to 1792, opines that 'Winter will be a bit colder than normal, with above-normal snowfall. Precipitation will be . . . above normal in Oregon. . . April and May will be cooler and wetter than normal. . . Summer will be slightly cooler and drier than normal, on average, with the hottest temperatures in mid-July'.

So pick your prognosticator, and let's see what happens.