NWS: North Dakota poised for 'classic winter'
GRAND FORKS — Bundle up, North Dakota. It's going to get cold this winter.
That's what the National Weather Service said in its winter outlook forecast. Meteorologists are anticipating a "classic winter" for the north Midwest, meaning North Dakota and northwest Minnesota likely will see near to below normal temperatures and near or above normal precipitation.
"But for our part of the country, it also means some very cold and very snowy conditions at times ... and much colder and snowier that the past couple of years," meteorologists from the NWS Grand Forks office said in a news release.
North Dakota has been lucky the past two winters, which brought milder and drier weather patterns. Temperatures last year in North Dakota were 6 to 8 degrees above normal, and snowfall was “half or less of normal in both Fargo and Grand Forks areas” during the past two winters.
November is set to start out drier and warmer than normal in the Midwest, but that likely is to change as winter rolls in, according to NWS.
La Nina, a weather pattern known for cooling water in the Equatorial Pacific, could influence winter conditions this year, though forecasters predicted La Nina will be weak and short-lived if it forms, according to a news release from the Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
While the southern part of the U.S. is poised to see a drier, warmer winter than normal, the North, particularly the northern Rockies and Michigan, could see more snow, forecasters predicted.
As for North Dakota and parts of northern Minnesota, it could be a colder and snowier winter compared with other years.
Average temperatures for Grand Forks over a 30-year period hang around highs of 19 degrees and lows of 4.9 degrees in December before dropping slightly to a high of 14.5 and a low of zero in January, according to NOAA. February tends to be warmer with an average high of 19.9 degrees and a low of 4.9.
Those temperatures are slightly lower than Fargo by a couple of degrees.
Some days in the winter can produce highs in the 40s and temperatures dropping into the negative 20s or lower is possible, especially in northern North Dakota.
"This year, we'll likely see a few more days with temps dropping (and/or staying) well below zero," the release stated.
Snowfall measurements can vary significantly when it comes to the Red River Valley. Grand Forks averaged 45.6 inches of snow during the winter season over the past 30 years, with Fargo's average being 49.6 inches, according to NOAA.
"Climatological 'averages' vary from 40 to 50 inches in the northern Valley, to 50 to 60 inches in the southern Valley and points east," the release stated. "Snowfall is extremely variable in any given winter season, as history shows. It's not uncommon for part of the region to see repeated significant snows making for a heavy snowfall season, while other relatively nearby areas see much less."