Officials from numerous local, county and federal agencies met in late October in Tillamook to discuss annual preparations and expectations for the coming winter season.
The meeting began with a winter forecast from senior service hydrologist Andy Bryant of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). Bryant said those who are local to Tillamook County already know it’s not going to be dry and sunny all winter long. Before March, it’s possible there will be high winds, floods, snow, and other difficult wintry weather.
“Will we get maybe a little bit of low-elevation snow,” Bryant said. “There’s probably a little bit better odds than usual.”
Predictions for this past year were overall slightly above-average temperatures and slightly below-average precipitation due to the weak El Nino situation. For the most part the predictions were realized except for a cold snap in February that saw more rain as well as a wet April. Rockaway Beach saw some damage from high surf, and high tides caused problems for low-lying roads in Nehalem, but for the most part it was a quiet year.
Bryant said 2019 could be similar to 2018 in terms of winter weather, though not necessarily for the same reasons. The overall outlook is a bit on the dry side, and winter temperatures are expected to continue being above-average in the long-term. Winters in the Pacific Northwest have been trending warmer in recent years.
November and December are expected to be the wettest months, which is typical, but predictions are not strong regarding precipitation. January through March shows a continued likelihood for above-average temperatures locally. Precipitation may creep up above average in the spring.
In general terms of snow expectations, Bryant said historic patterns shows the possibility of snow occurs under conditions similar to what’s expected for the coming winter. However, he noted that coastal communities are generally too close to the ocean to have a good chance of snow. The ocean is always above freezing, making it unlikely to achieve the cold air and moisture conditions needed for snow at the same time.
Flood potential is another story. Bryant pointed out that nearly every winter the Wilson River floods. Major flooding is not expected this year due to the forecast of neutral conditions for the year, but Oregon has seen an expanding flood season and local agencies are closely watching the weather conditions.
Bryant suggested following a number of agencies on the web, on social media, and through digital applications and email for updates on the weather, including the National Weather Service and the NOAA.
Listen to a recording of the entire meeting below that includes individual updates from numerous organizations and agencies.