First of all, this winter will not be as bad as last winter - period! Last winter is the worst on record for low snow. What a dog. We have nowhere to go but up. The problem was not lack of precipitaion, but consistently too warm. Actually, the snow above 5500ft was close to average. I skied Whistler last April and it was fabulous.
I just went to a seasonal climate briefing with NOAA, yesterday. There was a presentation from the chief of the Climate Predication Center.
Here is my take….
A strong El Nino will tilt the weather warmer for this winter in the NW, but not as warm or consistently warm as last year. Snowfall will be about 15-25% below normal, for the season, with most of the impacts to the lower elevations. That doesn't mean every storm will be whimpy, just the total snow accumulation at the end of the season will be below normal. El Nino does not actually warm the region, but the warmth is due to El Nino changing the atmospheric circulation. That modification cuts off arctic intrusions to the NW. That causes the average temperature over the season to be slightly higher than normal. El Nino also means fewer severe weather events in the NW.
The blob of warm sea surface ocean temps of the west coast is breaking up - genuflecting to El Nino. The blob was so exaggerated by many - it never affected the storm track! Totally ridiculous. There is no known atmospheric mechanism for that to occur.