By Mike Augustyniak

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If this morning’s temperatures didn’t already do it for you, here’s your reminder that winter is coming. Meteorological winter begins on Dec. 1, but on Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its updated outlook.

NOAA’s outlook suggests that Minnesota can expect a winter with a good chance for more snow than usual.

The bright side is that most of Minnesota, aside from a Northwestern section of the state, has an equal chance for below-, near- or above-average temperatures, according to NOAA’s outlook.

“With La Nina well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,”  Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said Thursday.

Meanwhile, major sections of the rest of the country outside of the Midwest are forecast to see a higher probability for warmer-than-average temperatures, most notably in southern New Mexico and southwestern Texas. Few parts of the U.S. are favored to experience below-average temperatures this winter, with parts of North Dakota, Montana and Washington being the key exceptions.

The NOAA outlook covers the months of December through February, which are considered meteorological winter.

WCCO director of meteorology Mike Augustyniak says temperatures and precipitation are categorized three ways — above average, near average, and below average. Left purely to chance, over the long term, about 33% of years would fall into each of the three categories.

“Sort of like flipping a three-sided coin, if there was such a thing,” Augustyniak said.

Global weather patterns can nudge a season in one direction, and that’s what NOAA says will happen to our precipitation this December, January and February.

Because of a moderate to weak La Nina pattern, odds are slightly tilted toward having a wetter-, or snowier-than-average winter in Minnesota & Wisconsin; there’s a 33 to 40% chance that will happen.

Moderate to weak La Nina patterns have produced very cold, mild, and near-average wintertime temperatures around here, which is why NOAA’s temperature forecast plays it down the middle in most of Minnesota.

One important thing to note is that this outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations. NOAA has noted that snow forecasts are not generally predictable more than a week in advance of snow events.

Mike Augustyniak

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