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DULUTH - At the National Weather Service in Duluth, meteorologists
rely on all sorts of information to predict the weather.
For the time being,
all of that information points to a drier than normal winter.
"It's based on precipitation, which water content not
snowfall. But in the winter most of our water that falls is in the form of
snow," said Carol Christenson, warning coordination meteorologist for the
NWS in Duluth.
Forecasters like Christenson say a wavering El Niño,
expected to develop by now, makes this year's winter outlook less certain than
"Things follow a certain pattern in an El Niño year and
it's not occurring like we thought it would so things are changing," said
The possibility for less precipitation has businesses that
rely on it, feeling a little like this time last year.
"Any business in town that's snow sports oriented I’m
sure has things left from last year that they'd like to see go," said Mick
Dodds, manager at Ski Hut in Duluth.
Areas that have seen drought conditions over the past year
should continue to see much of the same. But, despite the drier predictions and
last year's mild winter, Christenson doesn't believe a trend is developing.
"We've been trending anywhere from
78–80 inches of snow as our normal for the past 30 years," said Christenson.
Christenson said the prediction is for a very wide area so
areas more prone to snow, the Snow Belt areas from Ashland through the Upper
Peninsula could see more.
She says no matter the snowfall, there most certainly will
be a winter.
"The early snows that we've seen I think bode pretty
well for business. We've been steady and we've seen a lot of people buying skis
already and a lot of service work coming in," said Dodds.
"It's a forecast. It's a three to
four month out forecast so we have to take a look at that. It's going to be
winter in Duluth. We're going to have some very cold temperatures. We're going
to have snow," said Christenson.