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109-year-old weather record falls

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Air conditioners are resting easier this July.

Saturday morning, a 109-year-old record for Mitchell's low July 27 temperature fell when 45 degrees was recorded by the National Weather Service. The previous record of 46 was set in 1904.

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It got even cooler on Sunday morning, dropping to 43 and setting another record-low temperature, knocking out a July 28 low of 47 from 1925.

"Basically, we've got a real cold air mass that extends from northern Canada down through the Dakotas all the way to the Great Lakes region," said Mike Gillispie, meteorologist for the NWS in Sioux Falls. "The weather pattern isn't very abnormal. But just how cold the air mass is, that's what is abnormal. The fact that it's lasted for two to three days is unusual, especially for the summer."

Both of Mitchell's weekend's highs, 71 on Sunday and 75 on Saturday, were the coldest high temperatures for July 27 and 28 since 2000, when the NWS started gathering weather data from the Mitchell Municipal Airport. Before that, the NWS used a regional observer.

Monday had a high of 68 and a low of 54, neither of which was a record.

This year's mid-summer cool temperatures are a relief compared to last year's hot, drought-stricken July.

Mitchell's average temperature in July 2012 was 81.7 with an average high of 94.9, while this July the average temperature so far is 74.2 with an average high of 85.

The cooler temperatures are saving energy costs for homeowners, said NorthWestern Energy Company Spokesman Tom Glanzer, of Huron.

"When we have a spell like the past five or six days, it makes sense to shut off the air conditioning and rely on overnight temperatures to cool down the house," Glanzer said. "It's been very fall- or spring-like, and that's going to encourage people to open the windows."

Glanzer said last year's peak energy usage came on July 16, a day Mitchell saw its hottest temperature of the year at 105. So far this year, Mitchell has hit 95 twice, on May 14 and July 18.

This week's high temperatures are forecast to be in the mid to low 80s. Today's high is forecast at 83.

"This week we're going to be a little closer to normal," Gillispie said, "and those low temperatures will be the upper 50s and lower 60s."

From today until Friday, there is at least a 20 percent chance of precipitation, with Thursday being the most likely to see rainfall at a 60 percent chance in the evening.

Mitchell has received 3.8 inches of rainfall this July. Last year through all of July, Mitchell received only one-quarter of an inch of rain.

"Mitchell is one of the lucky towns," Gillispie said, noting Sioux Falls has received only 0.58 inch of rain in July.

A few other area towns saw records set over the weekend, according to NWS records. On Saturday, Pickstown hit 49, a record low with records dating back to 1948.

Chamberlain and White Lake both had records set Sunday. In the morning, Chamberlain dropped to 47. Later in the day, the town reached its coldest high for July 28, at 77. The town's records date to 1981.

White Lake's low of 47 set its July 28 record, with data being kept since 1910.

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