Skip to main content

Sven Sundgaard: What La Nina means for Minnesota's 2020-21 winter

While El Nino is a slam dunk for warmer winters, La Nina is less predictable.

It’s official! NOAA declared us officially in a La Nina phase. We’ve been watching for the last few months a growing anomaly of cooler waters developing off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, where eastern Pacific waters are warmer than normal.

This occurs when the trade winds (winds that push east to west along the equator) increase, thus pushing surface ocean water warmed by the strong sun westward where it pools to above normal temperatures near Australia and Papua New Guinea. The result creates upwelling along the South America's coast, which means the deep, cold ocean waters are pushed up to the surface. 

La Nina's effect on Minnesota weather is a bit murky. 

Whereas El Nino is a very strong correlation for milder winters – 3 out of 4 El Nino episodes result in warmer than normal Minnesota temperatures – La Nina almost cuts 50-50 with a slight favorability toward the cooler side. 

There’s also bit more correlation to wetter winter conditions (either more rain or snow).

Follow Bring Me The News on YouTube for more weather videos

One must keep in mind that numerous things impact seasonal weather patterns and La Nina is just one. If other forces are stronger, which our climate models suggest this year, La Nina’s impact may not be much. 

Get more by subscribing to his Explore with Sven YouTube channel

California officially is experiencing the biggest fire in its history. Thousands are being evacuated from Oregon where they too are having a raging fire season along with most western states. 

There are currently over 100 fires. While a viral story, the gender reveal party isn’t the cause of all this chaos & smoke, that’s one fire.

Western fire seasons have been getting longer and more severe as temperatures warm. A clear climate change signal is being observed. Nearly double the acreage is being burned now compared to 40 or 50 years ago. 

In the West, they rely on winter and spring for rainfall and snowfall in the mountains to replenish aquifers and create greenery. During the hot, dry summer months vegetation dies off or goes dormant and fire season usually starts end of summer or early fall – it’s a normal, annual cycle here. 

These fire seasons however are starting earlier and ending later, and they've become more severe with more frequent extreme heat waves like we saw over Labor Day weekend (much of CA was baking with 100+ degree temps). 

Winter precipitation is becoming much more variable & less dependable as well, which leads to drier summer conditions. 

Next Up


Firefighters respond to smoke-filled cabin to find man asleep inside

A wood stove was determined to be the cause of the smoke.

snow plow msp airport

MSP snowplow drivers reach contract agreement after threatening strike

Teamsters Local 320 reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission Saturday.

Kellen Moore

What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

20211010_Vikings_Lions_REG05_1119 (2)

What is the next Minnesota Vikings GM inheriting?

A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings' roster and situation


Man dies after being 'punched in the head' during altercation in Duluth

A 46-year-old man is in custody and facing 1st-degree manslaughter charges.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders says Zimmer, Spielman hadn't spoken 'in months'

Sanders' comments revealed some of the Vikings' issues last season.

police tape, crime scene

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty in 2020 fatal drive-by shooting

Devon Manley will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Screen Shot 2020-06-16 at 7.48.35 AM

Man gets 10 years for fatal pawn shop fire during Minneapolis riots

The incident, which took place during riots in May 2020,  resulted in one man's death.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Election officials dismiss conservative group's complaint against Rep. Ilhan Omar

The group alleged that she used campaign funds on her future husband's consulting firm.

Screen Shot 2022-01-15 at 9.53.04 AM

Reports: 6 names surface in Vikings' search for new head coach

Six names have surfaced Saturday in the Minnesota Vikings' hunt for a new head coach.


snow, snowing

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

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


What NOAA's winter outlook says about Minnesota

A moderate La Niña winter is expected.

snow, blowing snow

La Niña watch issued: Colder, snowier winter for Minnesota?

The strength of the event will determine what happens.


The Farmers' Almanac unveils 2020-21 winter forecast for Minnesota

There appear to be a lot of farmers who enjoy predicting weather and writing almanacs.

Old Farmer's Almanac releases winter forecast for Minnesota

They also believe El Niño will play a role in our weather.