It’s raining, it’s pouring: what to expect from Oregon’s weather in 2023

Oregon has been in the middle of a La Niña phase, known as a ‘cold event’, for close to three years. When an area experiences this ‘cold event’ unusually strong winds should be expected. This force is common on the West Coast and as a result, colder temperatures are experienced here while other areas will see warmer weather. It is primarily responsible for the extreme heat and chilling colds Oregon residents have been experiencing in recent years. 

In the early months of 2023, Oregon citizens have been told to expect colder, wetter, and snowier weather than in the past. Pushing us into what researchers are referring to as ‘triple-dips’, defined as three consecutive years of La Niña, which are record-breaking and uncommon. However, Ryan Sandler at the National Weather Service located in Medford has found that this year La Niña has the opportunity to neutralize towards the spring. 

“The seasonal outlook for winter predicts a colder and wetter season based on La Niña, however our La Niña has been very mild and weak, so we expect to see our La Nina fade to neutral in the spring,” said Sandler.

Larry O’Neill, a director at Oregon Climate Service, the state climatologist, as well as a professor at Oregon State University has also been studying the weather for quite some time. He wishes to add that not everything that’s typical of La Niñas may appear. 

“La Niñas are never a perfect indicator of our wet season, but that last two years they have been very different from each other and what was expected,” said O’Neill.

For residents of Coos Bay, cold winds, waters, and heavy rain are familiar. However, even with all this wet weather, it is important to note that for the 17 of the last 22 years, we have faced less and less precipitation. This points to a drought that has the potential to continue on for quite some time. 

“We have been able to learn that our water supply isn’t infinite,” said O’Neill. “We need to be more water efficient, so we need to make do with less.” 

Within the next year, this drought is not expected to fully recover. In fact, researchers are predicting  it may take several years. While this may sound contradictory, having to expect a repetitive wet season while in a drought, it is the unfortunate reality. 

“Even when you are in a drought you get a lot of rain,” Sandler added. 

 Oregon as a whole is experiencing a lot of variable climates throughout the state. The key to surviving with such fluctuations is to purchase a waterproof coat and layer clothing in preparation for any weather.