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caption: Scott Goodall looks toward the falling snow while walking along the beach on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.
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Scott Goodall looks toward the falling snow while walking along the beach on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

La Niña winter in NW is 'good news for sports enthusiasts' and, you know, the environment

Washington's wet season is starting early this year. La Niña weather patterns will bring wetter and cooler-than normal conditions through fall and into winter.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond says the extra rain could bring the mountains some early snow.

"I think it's good news for winter sports enthusiasts, among others," Bond says, noting La Niña conditions are good for mountain snowpack and could mean an early start to ski season.

More importantly, though, copious rain and a healthy snowpack "helps everything from forest health, our fresh-water ecosystems, salmon, you know the whole thing" -- that being our environment as the climate changes.

"[That's] why we should celebrate the onset of the rains rather than dread them," Bond says.

He says areas west of the Cascades will likely benefit the most.

"While it is probably good news for Eastern Washington also," he adds, "they're in a big enough hole that it's going to be hard to make that up. And we don't necessarily think that this winter ahead is going to solve all of their problems."

Farming in Eastern Washington has suffered this year due to extreme drought conditions that are much more severe than the western part of the state.

It will take much more rain to make up for the damage that's already been done -- a reality that could spell trouble for farming next year, too, particularly wheat yields.

So, while Seattle residents may feel gloomy as the skies turn gray, Bond wants everyone to remember: "Water is life. And, you know, we need it."