Skip to main content

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

– 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

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.


41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.


Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 6.57.31 AM

Police: Drunk-driver almost struck people watching parade in Bemidji

The man was arrested for DWI charges following the incident.


A colder and snowier winter is expected for Minnesota

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its latest winter projections.

A colder and snowier winter is expected for Minnesota

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its latest winter projections.

Get ready: It's going to be a cold and snowy winter, forecasters say

The farmers have spoken: It's going to be a cold and snowy winter for many in Minnesota.

slushy snow

Sven Sundgaard responds to AccuWeather's winter forecast

Take anything beyond a couple weeks with a grain of salt, warns meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.