MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a lot of talk about what winter may be like this year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Thursday put out its updated forecast through February, and they’re hinting that the mild weather we’ve been enjoying is about to end.
While NOAA is forecasting November to stay warmer, on Thursday they said December, January and February have a better-than-average chance of being colder than average in our region, while the southern and western U.S. have a high chance of being warmer than average.
That same area is forecast to have a good chance of drier-than-normal conditions, while there’s no strong signal as to which way things will work out in our area.
One of the biggest factors in this nationwide outlook is the development of “La Niña” — the global weather pattern that starts with a pool of cool water in the Pacific Ocean, near the equator. It’s the opposite El Niño.
But, unfortunately, La Niña’s impacts on the upper Midwest aren’t always the same. The last La Niña was during winter 2011 and 2012. It started with a brown Christmas across almost the entire state, a record high of 52° on the day after Christmas, and ended as the 4th warmest winter on record with only three sub-zero days.
The preceding winter also featured a La Niña pattern — but a stronger one — and it was the winter the Metrodome collapsed for the final time. From January into early February there were 35 consecutive days that the temperature stayed below freezing, and we received a total of 86.6 inches of snow that winter — the 4th highest ever.
The stronger the La Niña, the more definitive its impacts. So, with a weak La Nina forecast for this winter, the best advice is to make note of NOAA’s forecast but be ready for anything.