The future is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Again, think back to your bracket picks a few weeks ago. Sorry - that was a cheap shot. I'm always trying to read the tea leaves and look out over the horizon. It has been a challenging winter with nearly 126" of snow in the Twin Ports; the 5th snowiest on record. Although not as bitter as recent winters, we've had more than our fair share of snow this winter. So what comes next?

NOAA says that the 3-year La Nina cooling signal in the Pacific is over, and ocean models predict warming temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean by summer, maybe running as much as 2-3F warmer than average with a respectable El Nino warming pattern by the end of the 2023, based on projections from The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (above).

Red = warmer than average ocean water. File image: NOAA
Red = warmer than average ocean water. File image: NOAA
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Who cares? El Nino strongly correlates wit milder winters for northern tier states, including the Northland. It's still early, but confidence levels are increasing that next winter may be milder with potentially less snow as the biggest, wettest storms, sail south of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Credit: NCA, National Climate Assessment
Credit: NCA, National Climate Assessment
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Every El Nino is different, but MOST El Nino warm phases of the Pacific are dominated by wetter and cooler conditions for the southern US, and milder than average weather for the northern tier of the USA and much of Canada. NASA's Earth Observatory has a very good overview of El Nino here, if you want more background on this natural oscillation of water temperature, wind and moisture.

Credit: NOAA CPC
Credit: NOAA CPC
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NOAA's confidence is increasing that we are heading into an El Nino pattern during the latter half of 2023. What happens in the Pacific doesn't stay in the Pacific; El Nino can impact weather patterns across the entire planet.

A warmer Pacific Ocean flavors our weather here in the Northland. It's too early for specifics, but if I had to place a bet I'd lean toward warmer than average temperatures starting this summer, and spilling into next winter, when I expect less snow - with El Nino guiding some of the biggest storms south of us.

Image credit: Saturday Night Live
Image credit: Saturday Night Live
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Will it snow next winter with a parade of cold fronts? You 'betcha. Just maybe not as cold and not as snowy as this winter has been.

That may be more prayer than prediction. Stay tuned.

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