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Matt Cory, Forum Communications Co., Published October 23 2010

Expect colder, snowier winter

GRAND FORKS – A colder winter with more snow could be on tap for the Red River Valley.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center issued its latest round of three-month, seasonal climate outlooks this week.

The outlook covers December through February.

A La Niña weather pattern will dominate the season, bring below-normal temperatures and higher amounts of precipitation, the report states.

While the long-term average in snowfall December through February may be about 25 inches, in a La Niña winter, the area may see about 35 inches in the three months, said Mark Ewens, data manager at the weather service’s Grand Forks office.

Of course, it could see less because there’s a large range when it comes to snowfall – as low as 22 inches or as high as 60 inches, he said.

Typically, temperatures during a La Niña winter are easier to predict – generally lower than average. The report says we can expect more-frequent cold snaps, when temperatures drop quickly.

This season’s La Niña comes after last year’s El Niño, which typically results in a milder winter of warmer temperatures and less snow. Of course, last year also saw a blizzard hit over Christmas, dumping more than 25 inches in one event.

“When it comes to weather, there are rules of thumb that can be broken every day,” Ewens said.

October has been mild, above normal, he said, following on the heels of a wetter-than-average September.

Right now, models show a shift to more wintry weather around Thanksgiving.

Matt Cory writes for the Grand Forks Herald