Cold snap coming: Central, western ND to have wind chills of 50 below
JAMESTOWN -- A cold snap was bearing down on most of central and western North Dakota Tuesday, bringing the area under a wind chill advisory from the National Weather Service office in Bismarck, starting at 3 a.m. today. Temperatures were expected to drop to minus 4 by 6 a.m. with the wind chill factor making it feel like 27 below zero.
But if that doesn't sound chilly enough, get prepared. The forecast is downright frigid as the NWS has the same area under a wind chill warning starting at 4 p.m. today through 9 a.m. Friday. Winds are expected to blow steady from 15 to 20 mph out of the northwest, with gusts up to 25 mph tonight through Thursday night. That will bring wind chills of minus 40 to minus 50.
"To have a wind chill warning lasting this long, that is kind of unusual," said Terry Merriman, lead forecaster with the NWS Bismarck office.
A wind chill warning is issued any time the wind chill is forecast to reach minus 40.
"These wind chills are very dangerous in terms of exposure. Stay inside, don't go out unless you absolutely have to," Merriman said.
Arctic air that was bottled up over the Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada moved down into North Dakota Tuesday afternoon. Once the arctic air moves in, it will be over the west and central parts of North Dakota until Friday morning when warm Pacific air is expected to settle in.
While many areas of the state will have trouble breaking the zero line on their thermometers, Dickinson and some parts of southwest North Dakota may luck out with a high temp of 6 degrees. But the forecast low is minus 19, according the National Weather Service. Accuweather pegs local temps even lower.
"It will continue to fall throughout the day, with a high of minus 9 happening around 5 p.m.," he said of the central part of the state. "The wind chill will be around minus 40 and will go lower as we move into the evening."
Merriman said things will not improve much during the day on Thursday with the high temperature forecast at minus 13 -- minus 5 for Dickinson as of Tuesday night -- with the wind chill again expected to be around minus 50.
"Things start to improve some on Thursday night," he said. The winds are expected to decrease some from 8 to 14 mph, with a wind chill factor of minus 40.
Friday the arctic air mass will begin to move off to the east, with a high of 28 degrees forecast and low of 21 Friday night for Dickinson. A 20 percent chance of snow is called for as well. Meanwhile, the central portion of the state is expected to see a high of 10 degrees and an overnight low of 2 degrees.
Severe weather happening in the deep South -- including tornadoes, strong winds and torrential sinkhole-causing rains -- is drawing the arctic air down into North Dakota. Merriman said the area is oscillating between warm and cold weather, which is normal for North Dakota going into February.