The National Weather Service dropped their 2022-2023 winter outlook, in which they expect the impacts of a weak to moderate La Niña to influence at least a portion of winter weather across the country. The La Niña conditions (the name for a period of cooler conditions in the Pacific Ocean) is expected to wane through the later parts of winter but could have impacts through the early and middle parts of the season ahead.
What does that mean for us in the Northland? The Duluth office of the National Weather Service broke down the impacts for their territory, spanning across Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.
First, it is worth noting that seasonal outlooks are not daily forecasts. While there might be a likelihood of prevalent temperatures/precipitation amounts to be a certain way, that doesn't mean we won't see periods of time where we get the opposite of that forecast. Think of it as a broad, general prediction with variability always possible.
Here are the highlights of what they say to expect.
Northland Winter 2022-2023 Precipitation / Snow Outlook
Will the Northland see lots of snow this winter? It could go either way.
The way the NWS/NOAA offer their outlooks is probability of above normal or below normal temperature/precipitation, or the "equal chances" category in the middle of that spectrum.
Aside from the far tip of the Minnesota Arrowhead and portions of Wisconsin from Ashland eastward, we're in the "equal chances" category. This means there is an equal probability we could see below-normal, above-normal, or normal snowfall. I know, that doesn't really sound conclusive. The temperature part of this outlook seems more conclusive. I'll get to that in a bit.
Looking at things historically, the National Weather Service says La Niña has lead to "general increased storminess", which means there are more chances for storms. That, of course, means that there is a chance for more snow across the region.
In the last 24 La Niña winters, the Northland has averaged 1.8 inches of snow above average. Last year was a moderate La Niña winter as well, and we saw 15.1 inches of snow above normal for the winter.
Complicating things is that potential La Niña fades over the later part of winter. In all, the farther east you go into Wisconsin, the greater certainty there is of above-average snowfall.
Here's a map and some additional information on the precip outlook for the region.
Northland Winter 2022-2023 Temperature Outlook
Remember how I said the temperature part of this forecast was more conclusive? Well, some extra wool socks and sweaters might be a good idea from the looks of it.
The temperature outlook shows a 40-50% chance of seeing below-normal temperatures across much of central and northern Minnesota, including the Twin Ports area. Almost all of Wisconsin and the far tip of the Minnesota Arrowhead have a 33-40% chance of seeing below-normal temperatures.
Now, that doesn't mean we are guaranteed below-normal temperatures, but the odds are in favor of that happening. Additionally, that doesn't mean we will see persistent below-normal temps all winter long. We could just see regular bursts of cold air, broken up by normal temperatures - or even above-average temperatures. These outlooks are just broad brushstrokes.
Here's a map and some additional details on the temperature part of the winter outlook.
How does this all fit in with the rest of the country's winter outlook?
In general, the Great Lakes states and Northwest appear to be in position for the best odds of above-average precipitation, while the southern states are in line for what could be a dry winter.
On the temperature front, the northern states are looking at the likelihood of a colder-than-normal winter, while the southern states could see warmer-than-normal conditions. I know, you might be thinking "duh, it's cold up north and warm down south". Yes, but remember that these predictions are relative to "normal" for winter.