FARGO — The coming winter is expected to be cooler and wetter than average for the Upper Midwest, including North Dakota and Minnesota.
That's according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which hosted a national teleconference Thursday, Oct. 15, to talk about how the winter may play out across the country.
NOAA officials said La Niña conditions are currently occurring and will likely persist through the winter. La Niña describes conditions that result from unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.
For states like North Dakota and Minnesota, that will likely mean a wetter than average winter with colder than average temperatures, though to what degree that may be true cannot be pinned down at this time, NOAA officials said.
Globally, officials said there is a 65% chance 2020 will be the warmest year on record for the planet and a 35% chance 2020 will be the second warmest year since modern records started being kept.
Currently, 2016 holds the record for warmest year worldwide.
While NOAA officials said conditions may be wetter than average for the Upper Midwest this winter, it is unclear how that may play out when it comes to snowfall.
Likewise, it is unclear how a long-term La Niña may affect flooding chances in the Red River Valley this spring, NOAA officials said.
Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said for much of the country, the big story this winter is likely to be drought, as La Niña is expected to exacerbate already dry conditions in the southwest and northern California, which may see drier and warmer conditions than average this winter.
Halpert said current dry conditions reflect the most widespread drought the continental United States has seen since September 2013.
John Wheeler, chief meteorologist for WDAY TV, said the presence of La Niña this winter elevates the odds of a colder, snowier than average winter overall, but he said there are many unknowns "that can change that outlook at any time."