Minnesota 2010: Welcome to Chicago!

Welcome to Chicago, Minnesota. Or how about Kansas City with lakes. Or tornado alley north.

That’s what the climate has felt like to many Minnesotans over the past 7 months. Since March temperatures are running about 4.5 degrees above average for much of Minnesota. That’s more like the climate of Chicago, or southern Iowa on the way down I-35 toward Kansas City.

Weather extremes and oddities this year in Minnesota include:

-The first snowless March on record for many Minnesotans. Temps ran + 8.9 degrees in the metro.

-Another major flood on the Red River this spring

-The biggest tornado outbreak in Minnesota history in June.

-One of the wettest summers on record for much of Minnesota.

-Rare major to record floods in September.

-A string of 80 degree days in October, with temperatures running 7 to 10 degrees above average in Minnesota

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So in this year of extreme weather, what can we expect in Minnesota this winter? It depends on how you feel the dice are loaded.

The strongest La Nina episode in decades appears to be ramping up in the tropical Pacific. The cooler than average sea surface temperatures (SST’s) tend to load the dice in favor of colder than average winters in the Upper Midwest.

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CPC agrees with the winter outlook, with odds favoring colder than average temps during the upcoming meteorological winter months of December through February.

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But the forecast of a colder winter comes against the backdrop of a longer term trend toward milder (and shorter) winters in Minnesota. Since 1998, winter temperatures in Minnesota have skewed warmer than average for 8 of the past 12 winters.

So the interesting question in this forecasters mind this winter is; will the odds of a colder than average winter in La Nina years overcome the overall long term trend of milder winters in Minnesota?

It’s La Nina vs. climate change in Minnesota this winter, and we’ll know who the winner is sometime in March.

Enjoy the lingering fall colors this fine fall weekend as we head toward slightly cooler weather next week.


  • bsimon

    Interesting stuff. This amateur wonders how much reduced Arctic sea ice will moderate the La Nina affect.