The Climate Prediction Center issued its latest long-term outlook Thursday, and it certainly didn't contain any encouraging news for North Dakota.
The CPC now says existing weather patterns favor the chances of a colder than normal winter ahead.
The latest outlook is in sharp contrast to one issued in mid-September by the CPC when it was determined El Nino influence would likely mean a warm winter for the Northern Plains. El Nino was faltering by October, taking with it the possibility of North Dakota enjoying a warmer than usual winter. Now, according to the CPC, North Dakota is at increased risk of experiencing some colder than usual months ahead.
The CPC's latest outlook states, "Below normal temperatures are favored for portions of southern Alaska, including the Alaskan panhandle, and in parts of the northern Great Plains and upper Mississippi Valley."
The one-month outlook issued Thursday warns that nearly all of North Dakota has an increased chance of temperatures much colder than normal through mid-December. Beyond that the outlook remains very similar. The CPC says North Dakota, including the Minot region, is likely to experience colder than normal temperatures through March.
Such forecasts don't necessarily mean extended periods of extremely cold temperatures, but rather a possibility of running a few degrees below normal. Normal 24-hour average temperatures for Minot are: December, 15.4 degrees; January, 12.2 degrees; February, 17.0 degrees; and March, 28.3 degrees.
The long-term outlook for precipitation is rated as "normal" through March. Average snowfall in Minot is: December, 7.6 inches; January, 10.8 inches; February, 5.0 inches; and March, 7.0 inches.
In sharp contrast to the long-term outlook, the shorter 8-day to 14-day forecast issued earlier this week calls for a greater than normal probability of warm temperatures and precipitation chances over western and central North Dakota for the period of Nov. 22-28. Temperatures in the Minot area are expected to reach daytime highs in the low 40s as late as next Wednesday.
Long-term outlooks are always subject to change and cannot by relied upon with absolute certainty, but they are based on years of statistical knowledge compiled and examined by experienced weather forecasters. The long-term outlooks play another role too, that of conditioning the public as to what they might generally expect for weather in the coming months.
The next long-range outlook by the CPC will be issued Dec. 20.