Spring has left us, and Summer is in full swing. It’s time to wax up your skis/snowboard and head south for the Winter. Before you make the long trek you need to read all the predictions and forecasts just to make certain of one question; will it be an El Nino or La Nina season? It affects all of us one way or another, some more then others depending on where you ride. This year is an El Niño year and that is a good thing, but I am getting ahead myself, let’s talk about what this all means.

What is the difference between the two?

To start off, El Niño and La Niña are opposing phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. The ENSO cycle describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere, where La Niña is the colder phase while El Niño is the warmer phase.

What a wonderful El Niño season looks like. Ben Girardi.

During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest of the United States. On the opposite end of the spectrum, El Niño consists of a warmer-than-average temperatures over the western and northern parts of the United States. This past season in North America presented a difficult challenge to scientists in identifying the type of year, as it was a neutral year that didn’t take strong characteristics of either season. While California received the lowest amount of snowfall in history, the Northeast had one of it’s best winter seasons in a decade, and places like Michigan were receiving some of the most snowfall in North America.


Typical winter weather impacts of El Nino

Typical winter weather impacts of La Nina.

What does this mean for the South America winter season?

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center is calling for El Niño to take effect in the next couple months. This means an excess amount of moisture coming off of the Pacific ocean, and powder to be nuking the Andes mountain range. The photo below is from the 2010 winter season at Catedral Alta Patagonia, Argentina which was an El Nino year.



Between the massive amounts of moisture and the elevation of the Andes, this winter is going to be one for the record books. If you weren’t able to catch all the fresh tracks this winter you were hoping to score, SASS Global Travel has your covered. We offer a full service, big-mountain, backcountry, skiing and snowboarding camp for all ages. We take advantage of the full-on winter conditions to crush pow in the middle of summer. JOIN US!


Although El Niño brings in warmer conditions, Andrew Burns is already on fire. Ben Girardi.