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Weather service sets its outlook for summer in Western Washington

Bellingham, Whatcom County and the rest of Western Washington can expect a warmer than normal summer with less rainfall, according to long-range forecasts issued Thursday.

Forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center call for above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall for the months of June, July and August.

That could be from the influence of a growing El Niño weather phenomenon, which usually means a warmer and drier winter for the Northwest, said Dev McMillian, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

There’s now a 90% chance of an El Niño this winter, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

But drought development is also seen as unlikely, at least in the short term, because the mountain snowpack didn’t begin to melt until recently, McMillian told The Bellingham Herald in an interview.

“It was kind of funny how that played out. Our precipitation was below normal, but we had such a cool spring that the snowpack hung around,” he said.

Snowpack in the North Cascades near Bellingham is now 68% of normal, down from 89% or normal in March, according to measurements from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service..