BEMIDJI-Despite a string of mild winters and Saturday temperatures in the 70s, "Brrmidji" will earn its nickname this season with colder-than-average temperatures and heavier snowfall, according to Jeff Makowski,a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D.
While Makowski calls seasonal outlooks "a bit uncertain," he said that while Minnesota and other Midwestern states have enjoyed a warmer fall, the trend will not continue into December.
"Last year especially was quite mild and on the low end for snowfall, so we're expecting generally a trend toward a cooler winter, perhaps a little bit wetter," Makowski said. "That would be quite a change from the past few winters."
Makowski chalked up last year's mild winter, as well this year's anticipated cold weather, to El Nino and La Nina. Last year, Makowski said, there was a very strong El Nino, meaning that the sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean were quite warm. This year, however, meteorologists anticipate a weak La Nina: cooler Pacific temperatures.
"With La Nina there's a tendency more for the jet stream to drop out of Canada into the northern U.S., bringing with it cooler temperatures and sometimes more snowfall to the region," Makowski said.
As for how much more snowfall, Makowski isn't sure. The Bemidji area gets approximately 40 to 50 inches of snowfall per year but that can very depending on year and location. If Bemidji is caught in a large snowstorm or just barely avoids a significant snowfall, that could throw off the entire average, Makowski said.
He is, however, fairly sure that this fall's warmer weather will continue for the next two weeks.
"We've been very warm this fall," Makowski said. "It looks like we'll continue with well-above-average temperatures...Forecast confidence decreases heading into later November."
A quick shift in temperatures could be on the horizon, however.
"It's difficult to say whether we might see a very rapid flip to a much colder pattern," Makowski said. "If we do get that it might be quite a...shock to the system, as warm as it's been."
Beltrami County Director of Emergency Management Chris Muller emphasized the importance of preparedness, especially after last year's mild winter.
"The promise or forecast rather for a typical winter may catch some people off guard," Muller said. "We want everybody to take the precautions that they do every single year."
Muller suggests that, to prepare for a snowier-than-average winter, people should check their home heating systems and make sure their car is running well and stocked with emergency supplies such as blankets, extra clothes, food, a flashlight, a whistle, batteries, matches and drinking water.
Muller also urged people to pay close attention to travel advisories and, when traveling long distances, make sure someone knows where they are going and what route they will be using.
"The biggest thing in all of this is to listen to advisories," he said. "If the weather is bad and we're warning people not to travel, don't travel."