The winter forecast: It might not be super cold in Minnesota ... yay?

Forecasters released the winter outlook, and it's kind of a shoulder shrug.
Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

Get your shovels ready.

Federal forecasters have released their long-range outlook for this winter

And Minnesota among the places that could get more snow than average. 

Much of Minnesota has a 33 percent chance of being wetter than normal from December through February.

Much of Minnesota has a 33 percent chance of being wetter than normal from December through February.

How much snow are we talking?

The forecast doesn't try to predict snowfall totals because those forecasts "are generally not predictable more than a week in advance," the outlook says.

But we can tell you what the average snowfall is: Minnesota usually ranges from 36 inches in the southwest to 70-plus inches along Lake Superior's "snow belt," the Minnesota DNR's website says.

So if the winter outlook stays on track, we could be seeing more than a few feet of snow this year across much of the state. 

If you're really dreading winter, there's still a little time until the average first 1-inch snowfall in the Twin Cities, which is Nov. 16. However, the first measurable snowfall typically happens by Oct. 24 in Duluth – and even earlier in far northern Minnesota. 

For more information about Minnesota's historic snowfalls, click herehere and here.

How cold will it be? 

Well, that's a good question. 

The winter outlook doesn't really tell us much. 

It shows Minnesota – everywhere except for the northwestern part of the state (sorry) – has an "equal chance" of seeing colder-than-average and warmer-than-average temperatures. 

So essentially, the federal forecasters are shrugging their shoulders, because there's no tilt in the odds on whether it'll be warmer or colder.

Image placeholder title

Colder or warmer than average isn't really saying much for us hearty Minnesotans, who deal with below-freezing temperatures for pretty much the entire winter. 

If you didn't know: The average temperature in the winter in northern Minnesota is a whopping 6 degrees, while the southern part of the state averages 16 degrees, the Minnesota DNR's website shows.

It's worth noting that Minnesota doesn't have cooler-than-normal winters very often (thank goodness). It has only happened two times in the past eight years, with the most recent being the winter of 2013-14, meteorologist Mark Seeley wrote on his weather blog. (That was the dreaded "polar vortex.")

If you look back even further, only five of the past 20 winters were colder than normal, Seeley says.

Blame La Nina

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases this winter outlook every year to help people prepare for what is "likely" to happen over the next few months. 

Related: 
– La Niña Watch issued: Minnesota at risk for snowier, colder winter

But as with any forecast, it can change. We've all witnessed how the forecast can differ from the weather we actually get, especially with long-range forecasts like this. (KARE 11's meteorologist explains why it can be hard to predict in this story.)

And that's really the case this year. NOAA says La Nina is expected to develop for the second year in a row, adding that it is the "biggest wildcard" in how this winter will turn out. (NOAA says it'll update its winter weather outlook on Nov. 16.)

NOAA says La Nina has a 55-65 percent chance of developing before winter arrives. 

“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the winter outlook. 

During La Nina winters, there's usually more snow than average around the Great Lakes and it's typically colder along the northern part of the country, from the Pacific Northwest to Minnesota.

But with La Nina, there's good news for snow birds – above-average temperatures are more likely in the southern two-thirds of the country, as well as up the East Coast. 

For the outlook for the rest of the country, check out NOAA's video explainer below. 

You can find updated weather outlooks on NOAA's website here

Next Up

Related