For the next week temperatures in Washington’s farmland are predicted to be mild. But wine grape growers and orchardists still worry a cold snap could hurt them.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The fires and immediate mudslides are over in the Methow Valley in north central Washington. Now a lot of tough work has begun.

Cattle fences are still down, orchards are scorched, homes are burned down, creeks need stabilizing. And the snow is coming. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said a lot of what's driving this forecast is an El Niño , a warming cycle in the Pacific Ocean that can have big effects on weather and climate around the globe.

"It is slowly getting started, but it looks like it is happening in the tropical Pacific,” he said. “In the past when we have had those conditions, it has tended to be on the warm, dry side."

As you might imagine, this outlook sends shivers down the spines of anyone who depends on winter snowpack for recreation, water supply or hydropower.

Oregon lawmakers get back to work Monday after a snow day Friday threw a wrench in the schedule. The short week turned up the pressure on an already brief session.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The Northwest is finally getting a dose of the icy cold weather we've been hearing about this winter from the rest of the country. Snow has prompted school closures and early releases in parts of Oregon and southwest Washington; the Oregon legislature has shut down; meanwhile in Boise, the forecast calls for snow through Saturday. As Jessica Robinson reports, western parts of the region may be able to learn something from north Idaho.

Oregon lawmakers will take a rare snow day Friday. The wintry forecast prompted legislative leaders to cancel all hearings and floor sessions for the day.

The Northwest’s deep freeze is over for most of the region, but snow remains in some areas and winter is just arriving. That means more cold temperatures and potentially icy commutes in the months ahead.

In the past two days, there have been 149 vehicle crashes in Spokane County. Though snow falls in Spokane every year, Police say they still see a rise in car-wrecks on icy winter roads. Paige Browning reports.

Snow is expected east of the Cascades this week. But some people say they don't need forecasters to tell them that -- they claim to be able to "smell" when snow coming. Enough people in the Northwest say this, but is there a scientific explanation?

Laura Munson is a writer living in northwest Montana. She swears she can tell when it's going to snow -- even if people don't believe her.

WSDOT / Flickr

The National Weather Service is predicting the first snowfall of the season this weekend in the mountain passes around the Northwest. Cold air arriving behind a frontal system could drop the snow level to around 3,000 feet in Washington and generally between 3,000 and 4,000 feet in the Oregon Cascades through early next week.