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Winter cold, not as bad as last year

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After a short, cool summer, is everyone ready for a long, cold winter? According to long-range weather predictions, plan for a "colder than normal" winter this year.

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But what exactly is "normal" when it comes to weather in Minnesota?

According to the National Weather Service, while temperatures are supposed to be colder than normal, they won't be as severe as last winter.

"We're looking at relatively normal snowfall and somewhat below average temperatures," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Al Voelker.

Going into a La Niña (Spanish for "the girl") -- the counterpart of El Niño (Spanish for "the boy") -- "usually gives us colder temperatures. This will be the second year in a row we're under La Niña, and usually as robust as the initial years," Voelker said. "It's not quite as cold, but general below average temperatures."

The changes in weather during La Niña are due to the sea surface temperatures, and temps are usually about 7 degrees lower than normal. La Niña can last at least five months.

A series of four major blizzards in North America last winter were attributed to La Nina.

If you like your forecasts folksy, the Farmer's Almanac predicts the average temperature for November will be 28 degrees, with 1.5 inches of precipitation. On the up side, that's .5 inches less than average, but on the down side, that precipitation includes rain and snow.

A more detailed breakdown of what the Farmer's Almanac predicts for November includes snow, sun and cold for Nov. 1-7; showers for Nov. 8-10; snow, sunny and mild temps for Nov. 11-17; rain, snow, and colder Nov. 18-22; snow, cold then mild for Nov. 23-30.

"Winter will be colder than normal, especially in February. Other cold periods will occur in mid- and late December and mid- and late January," the Farmer's Almanac says.

Included in Region 9 of the almanac are Minnesota, the very western portions of North Dakota and South Dakota and the northern parts of Wisconsin and Michigan. Precipitation and snowfall will be below normal in the east and above normal in the west, the Almanac says.

"The snowiest periods will be in early and mid-December, early to mid-February and mid-March. April and May will be much cooler and a bit drier than normal."

And once again, it seems as though the summer will be cooler than average. September and October of next year will again be cooler and drier than normal for this region.

Since this is the second year of La Niña, Voelker said temperatures this winter won't be as bad as last winter.

"Snowfall, at this point and time, we're going pretty close to average," he said.

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