Published January 20, 2022

Take Your Chances

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
[Image: cpc.ncep.noaa.gov]
[Image: cpc.ncep.noaa.gov]

Latest 3-month Weather Outlook 

Expect more of the same, more or less. That’s the conclusion reached by the Climate Prediction Center in their latest 3-month weather outlook for North Dakota. 

So far this winter, North Dakota residents have experienced winter in many forms – freezing rain, heavy snow, bitter cold, high winds, and blizzard conditions included. In other words, very much normal winter weather for the region.  

As residents will attest, North Dakota is a land of extreme weather patterns, both long and short term. The CPC issues their long-range outlooks in terms of above, equal, or below normal. And normal covers a wide range of weather, particularly during winter when heavy snowfall, extreme cold, and wicked winds have the National Weather Service including phrases such as “life threatening” in their forecasts. 

So, when the CPC’s long-range outlook calls for “equal” chances of seasonal temperatures and precipitation, which in winter months is almost always in the form of snow for North Dakota, is it good news or bad news? Well, it can be both. 

The latest issuance of the CPC’s 3-month weather outlook for the United States places North Dakota in the “equal chances” category for both seasonal temperatures and season precipitation through April. 

[Image: cpc.ncep.noaa.gov]

As for precipitation during the forecast period, which during winter is almost always snow in North Dakota, the CPC says, “seasonal precipitation amounts are expected to be similar to climatological probabilities.” 

Okay. But in North Dakota the “probabilities” range from 2 inches of snow to 2 feet of snow. To put it another way, while the amount of snow already on the ground throughout the state may seem like a lot, statistically, it isn’t. For example, Minot’s snowfall total this winter is about 25 inches. Historically, a “normal” winter in Minot would result in slightly more than 46 inches of snow. We’ve got some catching up to do to be “normal." 

As for temperature expectations from now through April, the CPC again rates North Dakota in the “equal” chances category, much the same as it has been so far this winter. Our days have been everything from okay to tolerable to miserable with no distinct indicator to drive the forecast one way or another as La Nina continues “to be the major contributor to the predicted climate.” 

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