El Nino's chances fading farther; looks like we've got a neutral winter on tap

Sun sets on a lavender field in Sequim (Photo: Jennifer Grand Photography)

Rain fans have got to be wondering whether it will ever rain in Seattle again, but those who at least like wetter winters can take the silver lining that at least the chances of an El Nino winter are fading even a bit more.

Ever since attention turned away from last winter's La Nina and toward 2017-18's winter prognosis, the forecasts have bounced a bit between slight edges to El Nino or a "neutral" year when we're not in either El Nino nor La Nina.

In April, El Nino had a pretty sizable lead at roughly 65 percent chance of occurring by autumn. That fell to a near tie in May, and remained there in June.

But now in July's latest update, neutral conditions have taken as much as a 12-20 point lead in the forecasts:

Neutral winters tend to run the gamut with a wildly varying jet stream that brings periods of storminess and periods of calm. I understand that sounds a lot like "partly sunny, chance of showers" but think about the persistent rainy patterns we had the last winter under La Nina that had few breaks, and the flip side a few winters ago where we had month-long periods of not much of anything. Neutral years tend to be a good blend.

For skiers and snowboarders, neutral years typically end up near average in the winter snowpack whereas the El Nino that it looks like we're dodging usually have lighter snowpacks.

But neutral years also tend to be where we typically see our strongest winter storms -- just about all our greatest windstorms and a decent amount of our historical floods have come in neutral years.

MORE | How Western Washington typically fares in El Nino, Neutral and La Nina Winters

So if the current forecasts are correct and we're in line for a neutral year, it should be a busy fall and winter for meteorologists!

Is it ever going to rain again?

I'm sure many of you might be more curious about the current dry streak that has now reached Top 10 status. The new long range forecasts are in and show much of the status quo: Warm and Dry.

Note there's a dry bubble over the Northwest on the 90 day map, but not one on August. Still, August is our super dry month anyway so I don't think we'll be getting a parade of super soakers any time soon. That doesn’t mean the dry streak is going to last into winter, but forecasters believe precipitation will generally remain below normal into the start of autumn.

But once we get into autumn, the long range forecasts show no signal either way on precipitation -- likely due to expected neutral conditions which keep rainfall averages near normal.

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