Winter outlook calls for colder than normal temps

La Nina looks to dominate this season.

Graphic with map of the United States and weather outlook for temps and precipitation.
Colder than normal temperatures are forecast through December and the likelihood is for that trend to continue through February.
Contributed / National Weather Service
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After a mild end to the week with temperatures in the upper 30s Friday, cold air arrives for the weekend with wind chills of nearly 20 below into Saturday morning, Dec. 3.

And it looks as though that cold air may be hanging around.

If the cold air ushered into the lakes area — with temps of 11 degrees for a high forecast for Wednesday — makes it feel as though winter is really here, it is. Winter — meteorologically, at least — officially arrived Dec. 1.

The outlook for the next six to 10 days calls for a likelihood of below normal temperatures dropping into the Midwest and specifically into northern Minnesota.

The coldest temperatures are expected through Dec. 8, with the potential for additional cold air outbreaks through at least mid-December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. The cold air is predicted to affect the northern tier of the nation. A La Nina effect from December through February is expected this winter with a 76% certainty from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.


“La Nina episodes in the winter months feature a wave-like jet stream flow across the United States and Canada, which causes colder and stormier than average conditions across the North,” the weather service noted. La Nina can be cold and snowy while El Nino is noted for creating more mild temperatures. Both originate in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Nina can persist for several years and this marks the third consecutive year of La Nina.

During a winter weather outlook, the National Weather Service in Duluth noted the cold periods with La Nina may not be over long periods of time, there are moderating periods between.

While temperatures are forecast to be in the teens for the coming days, the normal high temperature for this time of year is 31 degrees.

For the same time 6-10 day outlook, the precipitation outlook has Minnesota split across its length. The eastern side of the split may have near normal snowfall, but the western side is leaning toward below normal precipitation or basically snowfall.

The National Weather Service updated its winter forecast Nov. 30.

Looking out to the month of December, the outlook has a 60-70% chance for below normal temperature across most of Minnesota but equal chances for either below or above precipitation, or snowfall.

The seasonal outlook through February, which was issued Nov. 17, continues the likelihood of below normal temperatures but it is also leaning toward above average precipitation.

So this winter is likely to be a cold one but it’s unclear whether that is going to mean more or less snow at this point.


“Starting in December 2022 through February 2023, NOAA predicts drier-than-average conditions across the South with wetter-than-average conditions for areas of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.”

Looking ahead in the immediate future for the Brainerd lakes area, expect slight chances of snow and cold air ranging from 15 degrees on a blustery Saturday to a high near 19 degrees Thursday. Overnight lows should be in the single digits to dropping just below negative numbers. With winds gusting from 15 mph to 25 mph during the week ahead, wind chill will be an early factor for this winter season.

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