Northern Plains are in for a winter warm-up
By Blake Nicholson
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Arctic air that has enveloped the Northern Plains for a week and half is on its way out, with a warm-up in store for the rest of the week.
Temperatures on Monday morning in the Dakotas were in the single digits and teens below zero — with wind chills dropping into the minus 20s. In late January and early February, temperatures have been even more frigid, with wind chills as cold as 50 below.
"It seems forever that we've been cold," said Nathan Heinert, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Bismarck.
But the jet stream — which has sat well south of the Dakotas and allowed the Arctic air to settle in — will be moving to the north and allowing some warmer weather in, he said. The forecast calls for highs Tuesday from the teens to the mid-30s in North Dakota, and from the 20s to the lower 40s in South Dakota.
The balmier weather is expected to stick around through the weekend, though there also could be brief cool-downs, strong winds and a mix of precipitation.
"Kind of like what we had earlier in January — highs in the 40s, then highs in the teens, high winds, rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow," Heinert said. "We're kind of looking at the same situation here."
However, major storms are unlikely and "overall it's going to be a lot nicer," he said. "We won't see anything like we've seen over the last week and a half."
While the strong winds last month — gusting beyond 60 mph in some cases — blew around snow and created winter storms several times, there has been little fresh snow lately and what remains on the ground is compacted.
"There is probably very little that can blow around right now," Heinert said.
The change in the weather is a mixed blessing for people who like to ice fish, said Doug Johnson, owner of the Sportsman's Cove resort in the glacial lakes region of northeastern South Dakota. The warmer weather is welcome, he said, but strong winds are not.
"Bitter cold does slow (anglers) down to a degree, but more important is the wind," he said. "The warm-up will be really appreciated, but I'd rather have 10 degrees and no wind than 30 degrees and windy any day."