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It was a cold summer in International Falls

Summer doesn’t exactly sizzle in International Falls, Minn. – not by Sunflower State standards, at least.

In fact, according to National Weather Service records, the outpost on the Canadian border has never hit 100 degrees. This is a place where the average lows through much of winter are below zero, and the highs need long-range binoculars to catch a glimpse of the freezing mark.

But it still caught my eye the other day when I read that International Falls just finished its second-coolest summer on record, with an average temperature of only 59 degrees. That’s a whopping 4.8 degrees below the 30-year climate normal.

Does this translate into an especially harsh winter for a place that knows bitter cold? Not necessarily, meteorologists tell me. In fact, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for December through February has a classic el Nino pattern in place – which means considerably higher than normal temperatures for the northern Plains.

That’s a distinct departure from the winter forecasts offered by the Farmers Almanac and AccuWeather, so it’ll be interesting to see whose forecast is most accurate.