Both of these weather patterns are likely familiar to you if you keep track of snowfall predictions in anticipation of ski season, but is a La Nina or an El Nino winter what we want if we’re rooting for more powder?

Really, it depends on where you’re looking to ski during either an El Nino or La Nina forecasted winter season. According to the National Ocean Service, El Nino and La Nina are two opposing climate patterns that break away from the norm of surface temperatures for the Pacific Ocean. 

During an El Nino year, typically occurring more frequently than a La Nina, warm water is pushed east towards the west coast of America. This causes the Northern U.S. and Canada to be dryer and warmer than usual, and in turn, the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Southeast region of the country to have above-average precipitation and cooler than average temperatures during the winters. According to OpenSnow, it’s also been common to see above-average snowfall for the Southwestern U.S. during the colder half of the year, from about October to March.

Areas that tend to benefit from an El Nino year include Mammoth in California, Taos in New Mexico, Winter Park, Keystone and Telluride in Colorado and parts of Southern Utah, in addition to Big Cottonwood Canyon Resorts Brighton and Solitude.   

A La Nina year on the other hand, which is what we’re looking at for the upcoming season, sends warmer water in the direction of Asia, which will bring colder waters towards the west coast of the Americas. This typically causes drought in the southern U.S. and heavy rains and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. 


In a nutshell, things are looking good for the majority of the Western U.S. and Canada and northern tier states. 

What makes this season extra special, though, is the fact that it could be a Triple-Dip La Nina, meaning that this may be the third consecutive La Nina season. According to a winter forecast preview for this season from OpenSnow, this will be just the third time since 1950 that we’ve seen a Triple-Dip La Nina.


On a typical La Niña year, the jet stream tends to hold a more northern positioning, which can mean consistent cold storms in places like British Columbia, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and central/northern Colorado.

Forecasts are meant to be taken with a grain of salt, particularly when given so far in advance. However, we think it’s worth generating excitement based on the below predictions about temperatures and precipitation this ski season. Here are the three-month temperature and precipitation outlooks for the main winter months (December-February).

While these forecasts are subject to change due to other weather patterns, the odds of us getting a Triple-Dip is higher than average. A Denver Post article stated that these are the coldest temperatures at the Pacific’s surface since 2010. 




2022-2023 la nina temp predictions


Also Read: How To Plan a Last-Minute Powder Chase

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