What will El Nino bring to Oregon for Summer 2016?

El Nino will transition to La Nina

Seen left to right, Jenny Coleck; Kirstie Gerhart and Joey Link, all of Portland float along Trillium Lake near Government Camp, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Who could forget the Summer of 2015?

Mother Nature was relentless. Wildfires raged across the Pacific Northwest in the most severe wildfire season in history. The sunny summer was the hottest on record with more days at or above 90 degrees than ever before.

A plane drops retardant on the wildfire near John Day, August 28 2015. (Traci Weaver)
A plane drops retardant on the wildfire near John Day, August 28 2015. (Traci Weaver)

The devastating drought caused severe to extreme conditions across both Oregon and Washington.

But as the summer changed to fall, something happened in the waters thousands of miles off the coast of Oregon. The waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean were warmer than normal. It created a Super El Nino.

What will happen when El Nino meets ‘the blob’?

For Oregon, that meant a more active storm track for us, soaking Portland and Oregon with record-setting rains and snow.

Photos: Round 1 Oregon storms in December 2015

Photos: Round 2 Oregon storms in December 2015

That’s great news for all of Oregon, but especially for the ski resorts. Last year, Mount Hood had a snow base of just 40 inches. This year, it’s more than double.

“We will still have remnants of snow up here all the way through the season,” said Dave Tragethon of Mount Hood Meadows.

The snow could also be a life-saver in the Summer of 2016. Because of the solid snowpack, the runoff during the summer months will keep our reservoirs full, rivers and streams healthy and combat a more active-than-normal wildfire season.

The good news extends to the Oregon wineries.

Penner-Ash Winery, Apr. 22, 2016 (KOIN)
Penner-Ash Winery, Apr. 22, 2016 (KOIN)

Winemakers who talked with KOIN 6 News said they’ve had 2 summers with both high yield and high quality grapes for pinot noir and chardonnay.

This could be the third summer.

“It’s just been wonderful and the vines are growing perfectly,” said Rob Schultz of Stoller Vineyards. “And I don’t have any pest problems yet and the vines have never looked this good.”

The warmer-than-normal temperatures so far this year put the vines about a month ahead of schedule and growing an inch per day.

But as El Nino transitions into La Nina, the ripening process should slow down. The big blob of warm ocean water off the Oregon coast is gone, the water temperature is cooler — and that means less heat and fewer long, dry hot spells.

A glass of wine being poured at the Hyland Estates Winery in Dundee, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)
A glass of wine being poured at the Hyland Estates Winery in Dundee, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)

Temperatures for the Summer of 2016 should be down from last year’s records. And that makes the wineries happy.

“It’s been nice having a California climate,” Schultz said. “But I don’t need it. I moved away from California for a reason. I like Oregon better. You can’t grow pinot noir in California like you can in Oregon.”

The reason for that is the climate.

From the Oregon coast to the high country, city to vineyard, this summer’s outlook is spectacular. Less drought, less heat — a summer combination Oregon residents call outstanding.

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