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For good or ill, she's sticking around. That's what the weather gurus are saying about La Niña. According to Brad Colman, science officer with the National Weather Service (NWS), "It's becoming more and more likely that the winter will be strongly influenced by a moderate-strength La Niña."

In California and the Pacific Northwest, where La Niña deposited huge dumps (world-record dumps in the case of Washington's Mt. Baker) last year, skiers like what they're hearing. Not so in Colorado, Utah, the Midwest, and New England, where she was stingy. Either way, the experts suggest that in '99-'00 she's likely to behave a lot like she did last year.

Skiers in the lean zones can pray the soothsayers are wrong; weather being what it is (unpredictable) and forecasters being how they are (inaccurate), there's room for error. But the Climate Prediction Center, from which the NWS derives its data, has been reasonably successful in foretelling what regional mischief to expect from the El Niño-La Niña cycle of the past few years. Looks like another feast-or-famine year.

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