After being walloped with a relentless winter last season, Minnesotans could be in for a reprieve.
A milder and drier season is upon us after the long, record-breaking snowy winter, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac predictions out this week.
“Winter has not been canceled,” said local meteorologist Paul Douglas. “But the odds for a gentle, kinder winter have gone up. … Hopefully, this can cheer you up a little.”
The almanac announced its yearly winter predictions calling for above-normal temperatures almost everywhere in the United States, except for the Southwest where it’s expected to be colder than normal.
What’s behind this milder prediction? The expected arrival of a weak El Niño warming pattern.
Last winter left many Minnesotans reeling and asking when it would stop.
The frigid temps and record-breaking snowfalls into April were jarring because the past several winters had been relatively tame.
In case you need a reminder: The April 13-16 blizzard of 15 inches was the largest Twin Cities single snowfall on record in April. At 26.1 inches, it was the snowiest April on record.
But Douglas and the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen caution that it might be too early to celebrate (or mourn) the forecast.
“It’s a challenge to predict because there are so many variables,” said NWS meteorologist Jacob Beitlich, adding that the data he uses don’t indicate which way things will go.
The almanac never releases a formula for its forecasts and modern scientists don’t put much stock in the unconventional weather formula based on sunspots, tidal action and other factors.
And even the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer’s Almanac itself knows it’s not the most accurate.
“However, although neither we nor any other forecasters have as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict the weather with total accuracy, our results are almost always very close to our traditional claim of 80 percent,” the almanac says about predictions.
The almanac says the coldest periods will be in much of December and from late January into February. The snowiest periods will be from mid-November until mid-December, and early and late March.
“If this is a typical El Niño winter, odds are most towns will see less snow,” Douglas said. “I love snow, and a lot of people do, so my advice is when it does snow this winter, take advantage and don’t assume it will stick around indefinitely.”
Last year, Old Farmer’s Almanac said most of the state would be mild and dry, with the southern part being mild and snowy.
“It got some parts right and some parts wrong … but even a milder winter can be character building,” Douglas said.