Will Stevens Pass be cold and snowy or warm and dry this winter?
Will Stevens Pass be cold and snowy or warm and dry this winter? SEASTOCK/ Getty Images

While much of Seattle dreads our slow, rainy walk into our gloomy winter, especially those of us that only recently moved here from California, there’s a small subset of the population that grows more excited with each additional minute of light shaved off our days. We relish in the lowland’s rain in the hopes that this precipitation comes as snow in the highlands. We are skiers and snowboarders and we are praying for snow.

One of the first signs of winter came on Sunday as a layer of fresh snow fell about 10,000 feet up Mount Rainier. The National Weather Service posted this photo from a National Park Service camera.

Does this September snowfall mean we are in for a cold and powdery winter? The scientists at the National Weather Service don’t think so—they predict a 50-55 percent chance of an El Niño this fall and a 65-70 percent chance of an El Niño this winter. El Niño, a seasonal weather pattern created by warmer water in the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean, creates warmer and drier conditions in the Pacific Northwest. While that might be good for folks looking for less gloom this winter, that’s bad news for those of us that like to spend our winters exploring snow covered mountains.

Don’t look too forlorn. We’ve all made bets on things that had only a 30 percent chance of happening. And there’s still a minority chance that this winter is cold and snowy in the mountains with plenty of powder days to share between us all.

And with two billion-dollar companies buying Washington's biggest ski resorts this year, Alterra (owner of Mammoth Mountain in California) bought Crystal Mountain in September and Vail Resorts bought Stevens Pass in June, maybe they can now buy some snow for us locals?