Lucky Peak boat ramp October 2019

A boat ramp at Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Weather forecasters think there's a 25% chance of El Niño in 2019-2020 and a bigger chance of higher winter temperatures in Idaho, according to presenters at the 2019 Idaho Fall Water Supply Outlook Meeting, writes Idaho Press reporter Thomas Plank. Steve King, the service coordination hydrologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the Northwest River Forecast Center, said the likelihood of a "neutral" season between the atmospheric events of La Niña and El Niño is fairly high. A neutral season is not really affected by La Niña or El Niño.

La Niña causes cooler temperatures in Idaho, while El Niño causes drier conditions. For snowpack, however, neutral seasons can have various levels of precipitation.

There's a good chance of just average precipitation in Idaho this year, according to models and predictions from the NOAA. But those predictions always come with a grain of salt. "There's a lot of risk involved making decisions based on climate signals," King said about making concrete forecasts. "Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose."

This year's snowpack is off to a "slow start," but with just a couple of snow events, that slow start could hop back to normal or better, said Danny Tappa, a supervisory hydrologist and data collection officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can read Plank's full story here at (subscription required).

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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