More snow this winter?A noticeable cooling of the Pacific Ocean could mean more snow for parts of the Northland in the coming winter.
By: Forum newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
A noticeable cooling of the Pacific Ocean could mean more snow for parts of the Northland in the coming winter.
The National Climate Prediction Center said last week that La Niña conditions were developing in the part of the Pacific Ocean near the equator and east of the International Date Line, with water temperatures cooling below normal levels.
The report said La Niña likely will persist into winter. In the past, La Niña events have tended to produce more snowfall across the North Shore, especially if the La Niña is moderate or strong, said Kevin Kraujalis, assistant forecaster for the National Weather Service in Duluth.
The past 60 years, La Niña winters have averaged 92.5 inches of snow in Duluth. That compares to just 77 inches for non-La Niña winters and the 60-year average of about 82 inches.
Most of the extra snowfall seems to come from February through April. Overall, La Niña events seem to have little or no affect on how cold or warm the winters are.
“This is a little earlier than we usually see these reports. But the thought is that it ( La Niña) looks to be gaining strength and momentum very early, so it may be headed to a strong one,” Kraujalis said.
Half of the last 20 strong La Niña winters produced snowfall in Duluth of 100 inches or more. But the connection isn’t a sure thing.
The last strong La Niña occurred in 1999-2000, and that year the Duluth area got just under 60 inches of snow.
National Climate Center data shows that La Niña winters start off relatively dry and mild in the region and progressively become colder and snowier than normal, particularly toward the end of the winter months.
La Niñas seem to have much less impact on International Falls’ snowfall, rising on average only to 69.1 inches compared to 65.3 for non-La Niña winters.
La Niñas are part of the cycle of Pacific Ocean temperatures, with the opposite phenomenon, El Niño, the warming of the waters. Strong and moderate El Niño winters have tended to produce mild winters in the region, and that happened this past winter. November, January, February and March were all well above average in temperature and included record warm spells.