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105-year-old record shattered

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Yes, it really was colder than usual on Saturday.

Mitchell’s Saturday temperatures didn’t quite dip as low as projected, but did set a new record for the day.

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Philip Schumacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said Mitchell’s mercury sank to 18 degrees below zero a little after 7 a.m. on Saturday, shattering the city’s 105-year-old Dec. 7 record low of 12 below, set in 1908.

It’s cold consolation, but that’s actually warmer than what was predicted. On Friday, the NWS forecast a low of 21 below for Saturday in Mitchell. Sunday’s low, in comparison, didn’t even come close to breaking a record. The low temperature for the day was 1 degree, and Mitchell’s historic low temperature for Dec. 8 was 23 below zero, set in 1927.

It was accompanied by a light snowfall Saturday night to Sunday morning, which Schumacher said totaled to about six-tenths of an inch.

Mitchell wasn’t the only community covered in cold; another area town, Tyndall, also made history. Schumacher said Tyndall hit 18 below on Saturday, obliterating the town’s Dec. 7 record low temperature of 9 below in 2005.

But both were warmer than Aberdeen: that city hit 27 degrees below zero on Saturday, defeating the previous Dec. 7 record of 24 degrees below zero from 1976.

“See, it was balmy in Mitchell,” Schumacher said.

Winter weather is nothing new in South Dakota, but such cold temperatures in the first week of December are less common, Schumacher said.

“If this were January, it’s certainly not unheard of to get into the teens and 20s. In early December it is a bit unusual,” he said.

According to Schumacher, the last time Mitchell’s temperatures plummeted much below zero prior to Dec. 10 was on Dec. 5, 2005, when it hit 12 below. Before that was Nov. 7, 1991, when it hit 11 below. The last time it dipped to more than 15 below, he said, was Dec. 2, 1985, when it hit 17 below.

“About once every 10 years, at least for the last 30 years or so, we’ll have this,” he said.

Schumacher said the chill was felt across the state, and much of the country, courtesy of a strong jet stream pouring cold air from the Arctic into the United States. That cold streak looks like it will continue, though not as extreme.

According to Schumacher, today’s low is expected to be 8 to 10 degrees, and Tuesday could jump up to 21 degrees. Tuesday afternoon could bring more light snow. Wednesday, though, he said another shot of Arctic air will lower that day’s high temperature to 5 degrees, and that cold streak will last through the weekend until Sunday.

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