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Tell me about the eastern Pacific ridge and the lack of snow in the coastal mountains.

Question submitted by Chris Galati
(New York, NY)

Question:I've read that an "eastern Pacific ridge" is preventing winter storms from hitting the Vancouver - Whistler area. Often this ridge breaks up around mid to late December, though. Can you elaborate on this ridge and also share your thoughts on the lack of snow in the coastal mountains? We're heading to Whistler in a few weeks and are hoping for snow! Thank you.

First off Chris - welcome to Vancouver!

Next the question. During La Nina winters we often see a high pressure ridge set up in the East Pacific with dryer than normal conditions in Southern California and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the storms that develop ride up and over said ridge and into Southern BCWashington/Oregon bring more precipitation to these areas. For the past three months however, the Equatorial waters that drive these events have been "ENSO neutral", meaning that we are in neither an El Nino set up, nor a La Nina set up, and as a result we really haven't seen a predominant eastern Pacific ridge set up either.

What we have been is lucky (or unlucky if you're a skier).. it has been a very dry Fall, and the local area ski hills have struggled to maintain a lower elevation base. That being said, it looks like our weather is finally changing, and good Arctic push is setting up. All the local ski hills - and more importantly Whistler (which opened it's record breaking Peak to Peak gondola today look set to get a good dump of snow over the next 24 hours.

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