When asked what lies ahead regarding the winter season, meteorologists often shape the outlook relative to normal, knowing that the wide swings in daily temperatures don't adequately define your ultimate winter experience.
Look at the tempeatuers so far this October. We enjoyed highs in the 80s earlier this month, but the past two days saw highs only in the upper 40s. We actually expect a couple of near normal days for today and Friday. That would be highs in the 50s.
Since the new thirty year normals have tossed out the relative cold readings of the 1970s and added the decadal warming since 2000, the new normals for our region have warmed, particularly in the winter season. If you have been paying attention, you'll not be surprised to learn that our coldest average minimum temperatures in January, in the Twin Cities, have gone up four degrees. For example, the average low on January 15th went from plus three degrees to plus seven degrees. Substantial indeed!
In late September NOAA issued this temperature outlook for the months of December 2011 to February 2012. Let's say we end up three degrees below normal for this three month period, known as the meteorological winter. That would actually be close to the old normal. We are comparing apples to apples, but the apples have a sweeter flavor for some of us.
An updated winter season outlook from the National Weather Service will be issued soon. It will be interesting to see if there is consistency in the outlook of favoring below normal temperatures.
In the short term, pretty quiet and seasonal weather is on tap for the upper Midwest. Winds will still be brisk today. If you are planning on doing some yard work, expect the winds to be on the light side Friday and Saturday. Ideal conditions will be found for gathering your leaves. Been holding off on the outdoor painting? Now's the time to attend to that as well.
If you're still looking for more moisture. Here's an idea of the limited rainfall expected through the weekend.
I prefer to stall on mentioning wind chill readings being in the teens in some places at daybreak.