Feds see cooler-than-normal winter coming for Minnesota

U.S. Winter Outlook
A map showing the 2016 winter outlook in the U.S.
Graphic by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center

Updated: Oct. 21, 7:55 a.m. | Posted: Oct. 20, 1:05 p.m.

This December through February may feel a bit more like an old-school winter in Minnesota. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's new seasonal outlook expects below-average temperatures across the state with above-average snow up north.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center on Thursday projected lower average temperatures were most likely across the Upper Midwest this winter thanks to an expected La Nina effect.

La Nina is the term meteorologists use to describe below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific Ocean, the opposite of the better known El Nino effect.

Last week, the center said La Nina conditions were favored to develop and slightly favored to persist this winter.

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On Thursday, the center's winter outlook said La Nina is likely expected to influence winter conditions, adding, "La Nina winters tend to favor above-average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies and below-average snowfall in the mid-Atlantic."

If a colder than average winter happens in Minnesota, it would buck the recent trend. This month, Minnesota's average temperature is running 4.5 degrees above normal. It's likely to be the 14th consecutive warmer-than-normal month in the Twin Cities.

That's why University of Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley is skeptical of the forecast.

"The trend we've been locked into all year has been persistently warm and so now the new winter outlook, November through March, is calling for a cooler and wetter season, and we're a bit baffled by that," he said.

"The climate pattern is so persistently warm. We haven't been locked into anything like this in a long, long time, and it's difficult to see it reversing itself."