April 2020 map

In April, climate conditions may begin shifting back into an El Nino, which means a colder-and wetter-than-normal month for Wallowa County.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s three-month-long term weather forecast predicts a mild winter ahead, but a cold, wet April.

“We seem to be heading back into an El Niño,” said meteorologist Pete Parsons.

Parsons predicts that in February, warm temperatures in the upper atmosphere will begin to split the jet stream.

“That will have a tendency to weaken storms,” he said.

Across Oregon, February may also bring higher-than-normal freezing levels.

“We should be able to hold onto snowpacks but not add to them,” Parsons said.

In Wallowa County, Parsons’ model predicts 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal , but with 111% normal precipitation.

In March, Parsons’ climate models indicate a similar pattern: weaker storms, higher snow levels and normal precipitation in eastern Oregon. He said that the probability of a “Pineapple Express” that would lead to rapid snowmelt and possible flooding is small.

But April may be the cruelest month. Typical of a developing, weak El Niño, April temperatures in the upper atmosphere are expected to be below normal. Storms will become stronger. Freezing levels especially in northeast Oregon may be lower than normal. More moisture and relatively low snow levels could mean more mountain snow, Parsons said, and not losing much snowpack. Temps in April are forecast to be about 2 degrees below normal and precipitation above normal here in northeast Oregon.

“For most of Oregon,” Parsons said, “ it looks like a fairly benign rest of the winter, and an early start to spring.”

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