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

Is there a direct correlation between La Niña and snowfall in the Twin Cities?

Enjoy the 90 degrees while you can, Minnesota. Old Man Winter could be waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

The National Weather Service has issued a La Niña Watch, suggesting there's a 55-60 percent chance a La Niña occurs. 

What's a La Niña again?

Basically, a La Niña is an event characterized by cold water rising from the depths of the Pacific Ocean up to the surface. Then all kinds of scientific things happen, putting Minnesota at risk of a snowier, colder winter.

"Risk" is the key word because La Niña doesn't guarantee we'll see more snowfall than usual, at least not based on recent history in the Twin Cities. 

How much can the strength of a La Niña affect snowfall in Minnesota?

First, here's how much snow falls in an average year in specific Minnesota cities. 

The Twin Cities area received just 32 inches of snow last year, which was a La Niña winter.

La Niña can be categorized as "weak," "moderate," or "strong." 

Last winter was a weak La Niña. The winter of 2011-12 was also a weak La Niña, resulting in only 22.3 inches of snow in the Twin Cities. A moderate La Niña was in place in 2010-11 and the result was a whopping 86.6 inches of snow in the Twin Cities. 

Other La Niña years and corresponding Twin Cities area snow totals: 

  • 2007-08: 44.8 inches (moderate La Niña)
  • 2000-01: 75.8 inches (weak La Niña)
  • 1999-00: 36.2 inches (moderate La Niña)
  • 1998-99: 56.5 inches (moderate La Niña) 

According to the Golden Gate Weather Service, there have only been three strong La Niña's on record. Here's what happened in terms of snowfall in the Twin Cities area those years. 

  • 1988-89: 70.1 inches
  • 1975-76: 54.5 inches
  • 1973-74: 51.2 inches

Now what?

Clearly, a La Niña doesn't necessarily mean you need to buy a bigger snowblower. It depends on the strength of it. La Niña can also have an impact on your bank account. According to Bloomberg, gas traders watch closely for La Niña winters because they can be a leading cause for surging natural gas prices and home heating costs. 

You can check out annual snowfall totals from the Minnesota DNR right here.

Next Up


Gov. Tim Walz to announce COVID vaccine next steps on Tuesday

Minnesota is nearing the 70% vaccinated target for over-65s.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 2.44.41 PM

Charges: Minnesota man killed his father with hammer, knife

The 44-year-old admitted to killing his father, court documents say.

P.J. Fleck, Gophers football

Staying home: Gopher football lands 6'7'' football recruit

The offensive lineman is a star player in southwest Minnesota.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Teen worker dies after being shocked at Vikings apartment site

Aaron Welle, 18, of Holdingford, died from his injuries.

teacher, coronavirus, covid-19, school, classroom

90% of MN schools now offer in-person learning, 55% of teachers vaccinated

Gov. Tim Walz had set March 8 as the date for when schools would be expected to offer in-person learning.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 8.12.13 AM

Catholic school employee allegedly had 'inappropriate physical contact' with student

The employee is currently on leave pending an MPD investigation.

covid-19, vaccine

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can be together indoors without masks

The CDC on Monday released new guidance for fully vaccinated people.

covid saliva test

MDH to open new COVID testing site in Carver Co. amid B117 variant outbreak

It comes amid an outbreak among younger people in the southwest metro county.

radio station, microphone

KFAN's Paul Allen recounts 'harrowing' fatigue from COVID-19

Paul Allen said he experienced extreme fatigue after testing positive.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 9.41.43 AM

Derailed train in Plymouth was carrying molten sulfur

No unusual air quality readings have been reported in the area.


snow, snowing

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

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


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.

plow, snow

Winter storm watch issued ahead of weekend snow in MN

Check out the latest snowfall totals being predicted by the NWS.

snow, plow

Winter storm watch issued ahead of Wednesday snow in Minnesota

Blizzard conditions are possible in the open areas of Minnesota.

Winter storm watch issued for south-central, southeast MN

The Twin Cities is on the edge of the watch box.

snow, buses, metro transit

Winter storm watch issued in Minnesota, includes Twin Cities

Snow could be quite heavy at times on Tuesday afternoon.

A colder and snowier winter is expected for Minnesota

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