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Good Question: Does A Snowy Winter Mean Cold Summer?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In life, we like balance. When it’s cold, we figure it will warm up. When it’s hot, we expect we’re due for a cool-down. So, what happens when you have one of the snowiest winters on record? Does it lead to a warmer summer?

Pete Boulay, Minnesota’s assistant state climatologist, took a look at the top 10 snowiest winters.

“You’re probably not gonna like this. Seven times out of 10, it was a colder than normal summer,” said Boulay.

Typically, according to Boulay, there is not a link between one season’s weather and the next.

“I didn’t expect to see that, I was surprised to see there was some kind of match,” he noted.

He theorized there were two possible scientific reasons that a snowy winter would lead to a cooler summer.

First, the weather pattern that delivered all that snow lingers for a while, leading to cooler temperatures in the early part of the summer. That pushes the average summer temperature down.

Plus, when you have a top 10 snowfall, that snow slowly melts into the ground, leaving a very wet ground.

“A lot of the sun’s energy is going to evaporate soil moisture, instead of heating up the air,” said Boulay.

Of course, in 1984 when the Twin Cities had a record 98.6 inches of snow, the summer was slightly warmer than normal.

“The outlier,” said Boulay.

Although he also noted that while 7 out of 10 seems significant, “it could be a coincidence,” he said, as there’s not really enough data to prove any sort of causation.

“I’d say your chances of a top 10 warmest summer is slim,” said Boulay.

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