Get set for a warmer and drier Minnesota winter as El Niño sweeps in


Minnesota's weather will be slightly less unbearable this winter.

That's according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which in its Winter 2015/16 Outlook predicts the northern half of the United States is in line for a warmer winter thanks to a powerful El Niño.

As a result of the weather phenomenon, which sees warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean affect climate patterns, Minnesota's winter could be anywhere between 40 and 60 percent warmer than usual.

There could be less snow as well, with the northern half of Minnesota set to be up to 33 percent drier than usual, though snowfall in the southern half, including the Twin Cities, could be closer to the norm.

"A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter," the NOAA's Mike Halpert said. "While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snow storms will likely occur at times this winter."

According to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources, the average winter temperature in Minnesota ranges from 6°F in the north to 16°F in the south, so if the NOAA prediction is accurate the state is likely to experience temperatures above these levels.

Those living in the north meanwhile might expect less than the 70 inches of average annual snowfall. The south of the state gets 35 inches each year on average.

Predictions for a warmer winter come after Minnesota just experienced its hottest September in recorded history, with temperatures averaging 65.1 degrees, which in turn led to the start of fall being delayed.

Things are going to start getting colder this weekend, though, with the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities predicting temperatures will top out at between 47-50 Friday and Saturday, before it warms up to a high of 57 on Sunday.

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