Mid-latitudinal cyclones are a key factor for understanding regional anomalies in primary meteorological parameters such as temperature or precipitation. Extreme cyclones can produce notable impacts on human society and economy, for example, by causing enormous economic losses through wind damage. Based on 41 annually initialised (1961–2001) hindcast ensembles, this study evaluates the ability of a single-model decadal forecast system (MPI-ESM-LR) to provide skilful probabilistic three-category forecasts (enhanced, normal or decreased) of winter (ONDJFM) extra-tropical cyclone frequency over the Northern Hemisphere with lead times from 1 yr up to a decade. It is shown that these predictions exhibit some significant skill, mainly for lead times of 2–5 yr, especially over the North Atlantic and Pacific. Skill for intense cyclones is generally higher than for all detected systems. A comparison of decadal hindcasts from two different initialisation techniques indicates that initialising from reanalysis fields yields slightly better results for the first forecast winter (month 10–15), while initialisation based on an assimilation experiment provides better skill for lead times between 2 and 5 yr. The reasons and mechanisms behind this predictive skill are subject to future work. Preliminary analyses suggest a strong relationship of the model’s skill over the North Atlantic with the ability to predict upper ocean temperatures modulating lower troposphere baroclinicity for the respective area and time scales.