Winter 2010-11 Outlook
Updated October 21, 2010 - Jeff Boyne

What is La Niña?
Winter Climatology
La Crosse, WI
Rochester, MN

On October 21, 2010, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released their first outlook for the 2010-11 meteorological winter (December 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011).  A moderate to strong La Niña in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean is expected to be a dominant climate factor that will influence the December through February winter weather in the United States. They are forecasting below-normal temperatures across much of Minnesota, and equal chances for above-normal, near-normal, and below-normal temperatures across northeast Iowa, northern Illinois, and Wisconsin.  Meanwhile, their precipitation forecast is for equal chances of above-normal, near-normal, and below-normal precipitation. See the information below for additional historical climate information relevant to this upcoming winter.

Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Outlook

CPC Temperature Outlook

For the upcoming 2010-11 winter, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) temperature forecasts strongly reflect typical La Niña temperature anomalies throughout the United States.  This includes higher probabilities of warmer-than-normal conditions from Arizona and southern Utah east into the Tennessee Valley and Georgia.  Meanwhile, colder-than-normal temperatures are expected across Alaska, and from the Pacific Northwest and northern California east into Minnesota. Winter 2010-11 U.S. Temperature Outlook
CPC's Winter 2010-11
U. S. Temperature Outlook

Local Temperature Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center's temperature outlooks are not based on whether the three month temperature outlook will average above or below normal, but are broken into terciles (above-normal, below-normal, and near-normal).  Initially, it is assumed there is an even probability (33.3 percent chance) for each category and then these probabilities are shifted to account for the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or trends.  During La Niña winters, temperatures can be quite variable across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.  Temperatures are usually near to above normal in December,  near to below normal in January, and below normal in February.  In addition, temperatures can also be affected by the La Niña's strength.  This temperature variability makes seasonal temperature forecasts incredibly difficult.  This is why the Climate Prediction Center went with equal chances for above-normal, near-normal, and below-normal temperatures.  Below is a list of the 2010-11 downscaled December to February temperature probabilities for various locations in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

CPC Downscaled Temperature Probabilities for the 2010-11 Winter
Region Location County
December to February
Average Temperature Probabilities
Northeast Iowa
Charles City
Floyd
33% - Above (Higher than 20.2F)
34% - Near Normal (16.3F-20.2F)
33% - Below (Lower than 16.3F)
Decorah
Winneshiek
33% - Above (Higher than 19.8F)
34% - Near Normal (15.8F-19.8F)
33% - Below (Lower than 15.8F)
Fayette
Fayette
33% - Above (Higher than 20.4F)
34% - Near Normal (16.4F-20.4F)
33% - Below (Lower than 16.4F)
Southeast Minnesota
Austin
Mower
33% - Above (Higher than 18.0F)
35% - Near Normal (13.9F-18.0F)
32% - Below (Lower than 13.9F)
Rochester
Olmsted
33% - Above (Higher than 19.3F)
34% - Near Normal (15.1F-19.3F)
33% - Below (Lower than 15.1F)
Western Wisconsin
La Crosse
La Crosse
34% - Above (Higher than 20.9F)
34% - Near Normal (17.1F-20.9F)
32% - Below (Lower than 17.1F)
Lancaster
Grant
33% - Above (Higher than 21.2F)
35% - Near Normal (17.3F-21.2F)
32% - Below (Lower than 17.3F)
Mather 3NW
Jackson
33% - Above (Higher than 19.3F)
34% - Near Normal (15.6F-19.3F)
33% - Below (Lower than 15.6F)
Medford
Taylor
33% - Above (Higher than 16.5F)
34% - Near Normal (13.0F-16.5F)
33% - Below (Lower than 13.0F)
Viroqua
Vernon
33% - Above (Higher than 19.3F)
34% - Near Normal (15.3F-19.3F)
33% - Below (Lower than 15.3F)
For other seasonal temperature outlooks, consult the following web site:
http://www.weather.gov/climate/l3mto.php

CPC Precipitation Outlook

For the upcoming 2010-11 winter, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) precipitation forecasts strongly reflect typical La Niña precipitation anomalies throughout the United States.  This includes higher probabilities of wetter-than-normal conditions from the Pacific Northwest and northern California east into western Montana and Wyoming; from Arkansas northeast into Lower Michigan; and in Hawaii where the current drought is expected to continue through the winter, with several locations remaining on track to become the driest year on record.  The drought recovery in Hawaii is more likely on the smaller islands of Kauai and Molokai, and over the windward slopes of the Big Island and Maui.  Drier-than-normal conditions are expected across the southern United States.  Meanwhile, the remainder of the United States (including southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northeast Iowa) will see equal probabilities for drier, wetter, and near normal conditions.
2010-11 Winter U.S. Precipitation Outlook
CPC's Winter 2010-11
U. S. Precipitation Outlook

Local Precipitation Outlook

The precipitation and snowfall amounts during this upcoming winter will be highly dependent upon where the primary storm track establishes itself.  At this time, it remains very unclear.  This uncertainty is reflected well in local downscaling studies which show that the precipitation and snow are highly variable during La Niña winters.

Below is a list of minimum, maximum, and normal precipitation and snowfall amounts for various locations in the Upper Mississippi Valley.

Region
Location
County
Precipitation
(Dec-Feb)
Snowfall
(Seasonal)
Northeast Iowa Charles City Floyd
0.87" (1963-64 Least)
6.56" (1914-15 Most)
2.87" (1971-2000 Normal)
11.5" (1967-68 Least)
77.1" (1961-62 Most)
38.5 (1971-2000 Normal)
Decorah Winneshiek
0.80" (1988-89 Least)
5.26" (1970-71 Most)
2.86" (1971-2000 Normal)
11.3" (1967-68 Least)
69.2" (1961-62 Most)
39.8 (1971-2000 Normal)
Fayette Fayette 0.66" (1898-99 Least)
8.25" (1914-15 Most)
3.64" (1971-2000 Normal)
14.4" (1965-66 Least)
84.5" (1950-51 Most)
40.8 (1971-2000 Normal)
Southeast Minnesota Austin Mower 1.01" (1956-57 Least)
6.71" (2000-01 Most)
2.39" (1971-2000 Normal)
17.0" (1986-87 Least)
76.2" (1961-62 Most)
41.6 (1971-2000 Normal)
Rochester Olmsted 0.71" (1957-58 Least)
5.50" (1887-88 Most)
2.71" (1971-2000 Normal)
9.1" (1967-68 Least)
84.7" (1996-97 Most)
52.7 (1971-2000 Normal)
Western Wisconsin La Crosse La Crosse 0.92" (1963-64 Least)
7.47" (1875-76 Most)
3.41" (1971-2000 Normal)
7.7" (1967-68 Least)
78.7" (1961-62 Most)
44.3 (1971-2000 Normal)
Lancaster Grant 0.93" (1986-87 Least)
7.68" (1921-22 Most)
3.00" (1971-2000 Normal)
8.0" (1967-68 Least)
77.5" (1961-62 Most)
39.7 (1971-2000 Normal)
Medford Taylor 0.71" (1896-97 Least)
7.02" (1945-46 Most)
3.37" (1971-2000 Normal)
14.3" (1980-81 Least)
91.0" (1950-51 Most)
50.3 (1971-2000 Normal)
Viroqua Vernon 0.61" (1963-64 Least)
9.13" (1998-99 Most)
2.88" (1971-2000 Normal)
12.0" (1967-68 Least)
74.5" (1996-97 Most)
42.7 (1971-2000 Normal)

For more details on La Niña, La Niña winters, potential wild cards that may affect this winter, and winter climatology, please click on the links below.

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