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La Niña watch: What it could mean for Minnesota's winter

There were wind chill readings in northern Minnesota on Thursday morning.
snow, snowing

The chances of a La Niña winter have increased slightly, and with it comes an increasing chance that Minnesota could have a colder, perhaps snowier, winter than usual. 

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued a La Niña watch in July, which at the time predicted a 50-55% chance of a La Niña winter. The chance, as of an Aug. 13 update from NOAA, increased to 60% for the fall and winter. 

If the La Niña comes to fruition, the colder ocean Pacific Ocean temperatures and positioning of the jet stream can result in a weather pattern that brings more cold air and sometimes more precipitation to the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, including Minnesota. 

But as the National Weather Service is quick to point out, "every La Niña is different, and not all La Niña winters behave the same way." Also, "the strength of the La Niña may make a difference in how it affects our weather both in terms of precipitation and temperature (so far, this La Niña is expected to be weak)." 

A La Niña winter categorized as "weak" has happened six times since 1950, according to the CPC. Compared to the seasonal snowfall average in the Twin Cities area (54 inches), the snowfall totals during a weak La Niña year have varied, though the most three recent have produced below normal snowfall. 

  • 1954-55: 33.9 inches
  • 1964-65: 73.7 inches
  • 1971-72: 64.4 inches
  • 1974-75: 64.2 inches
  • 1983-84: 98.6 inches
  • 1995-96: 55.5 inches
  • 2000-01: 75.8 inches
  • 2005-06: 44.4 inches
  • 2008-09: 45.0 inches
  • 2011-12: 22.3 inches

Both the Old Farmer's Almanac and The Farmers' Almanac recently released winter forecasts and both are predicting cooler and wetter than normal seasons for Minnesota. You can read the Old Farmer's Almanac prediction here, and the other almanac's forecast here

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Meanwhile, there were hints of winter in northern parts of Minnesota on Wednesday as winds howling from the northwest created some of the first wind chill readings of the changing season.

It wasn't bitter cold by any means, but places like Thief River Falls saw morning temps of around 50 feel more like 45 degrees due to the wind chill. 

Minnesota weather forecast with Novak Weather

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