December outlooks leaning warmer than normal for Minnesota

Could be Minnesota's 8th straight warmer-than-normal month

NOAA monthly temperature outlook
Temperature outlook for December 2023
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Blame it on El Niño.

It looks like we’re witnessing atmospheric impacts from extremely warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific. Surface water temperatures are now 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer than average in the equatorial tropical Pacific basin.

Tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies
Tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

These warm ocean waters can force the upper-air patterns across North America. The current pattern looks fairly classic for El Niño winters.

El Niño impacts
Typical El Niño winter impacts

NOAA outlooks agree

The medium-range forecast models and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration outlooks favor a milder-than-normal December across the Upper Midwest.

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Let’s start with NOAA’s Global Forecast System model temperature output for next week during the first week of December.

Forecast models are like people in that some are good at some things and not so good at others. As a forecaster, you have to know which models to trust in specific situations. The Global Forecast System model has many flaws but one of the things it’s more reliable at is gauging temperature trends a week out.

The model insists for several runs now that next week will bring a mild Pacific air mass with temperatures well into the 40s across southern Minnesota, with 50 degrees possible in the southwest.

Here’s a look at the temperature output next week:

NOAA GFS temperature output
Global Forecast System temperature output Dec. 5-8
NOAA, via Tropical Tidbits

NOAA’s temperature outlooks also favor milder-than-normal temperatures through December overall from Minnesota through the Great Lakes region into the eastern United States.

NOAA monthly temperature outlook
Monthly temperature outlook for December 2023

The three-month temperature outlook also favors milder-than-normal weather across the northern U.S.

NOAA 3 month temperature outlook
Temperature outlook for December through February

So our evolving Super El Niño appears to be on track to deliver a milder-than-average winter overall for the Upper Midwest.

Stay tuned.