Weather keeps Oahe from freezing over

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By Katie Zerr

Waist deep snow, wind blowing 40 miles an hour and temperatures hovering near the zero mark are distant memories to the unusually warm December South Dakotans just witnessed.While the winter season of 2010-2011 was a record beater in the snow and cold departments and March 2011 was brutal, so far 2011-2012 could be considered “balmy”.

In 2010-2011 the wind, snow and cold just kept coming, but so far the winter of 2011-2012 has been more than mild.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Mike Connelly of the Aberdeen office of the National Weather Service (NWS.)

Last year in Mobridge, 66.9 inches of snow fell during the winter season, second only to the 75.9 inches that fell during the winter of 1996 and 1997. This winter, only 1.5 inches of snow fell throughout the entire month of December.

With .22 inches of rain that also fell, Connelly said December 2011 was 40th driest on record. He said historically December is a dry month in South Dakota.

But the temperature is a different story.

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, a record high for that date was set when the temperature in Mobridge hit 58 degrees. The former record was 57 degrees.

The average high temperature in December was 36.6 degrees and that is the 13th warmest on record. The average low of 13.6 degrees was the eighth warmest on record.

The average overall temperature (both highs and lows combined) was 26.1 degrees, which is the eighth warmest on record.

“We get sweeps of cold air but they are just not staying,” said Connelly. “The weather pattern is not providing us with snow chances. With no snow on the ground the temperatures raises pretty quickly when the sun shines.”

During the winter of 2010-2011 it seemed snow fell every day in the Mobridge area. From Nov. 15 through March 31 the number of days that snow fell in South Dakota was 137. Mobridge recorded the most days throughout the season with snow occurring 79 out of the 137 days or 58 percent of days that snow fell.

So far, the number of days in which snow has fallen in Mobridge since November is six.

According to Connelly, there is no major change in the weather pattern that is keeping winter from hitting South Dakota hard.

“There will be a couple of cold swings over the weekend, but then it warms up again next week,” he said.

According to the Weather Channel 10-day forecast for the Mobridge area, the coming week will be above normal temperatures in the 40s and 50s. There will have a drop into the mid-30s by Wednesday, Jan. 11, and it will drop down into the upper 20s on Friday, Jan. 13.

Low temperatures at night are staying in the 20s and lower 30s until Wednesday, Jan. 11, when the lows will fall into the high teens.

– Katie Zerr –

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