Frozen from west to east, ND bids farewell to Arctic air
If you stepped outside to grab this newspaper today, you might have noticed that it's not quite as cold out as it was Thursday.
Fans of warmer weather will undoubtedly have little to celebrate as the expected 6 a.m. temperature in Dickinson is 3 degrees, but the National Weather Service in Bismarck says today's temperature will spike 25 degrees to a high of 28 degrees -- despite clouds rolling in to deliver some expected snow fall.
"It's going to be counterintuitive," said NWS meteorologist Tony Merriman from his Bismarck office. "You know how it was clear (Thursday) but really cold? (Friday) is going to be clouds and flurries, but it's going to warm up."
Merriman said warmer air from the Pacific is moving across the Rocky Mountains, and as it pushes into western North Dakota, it will move eastward the frigid Arctic air that brought temps down to nearly 20 below zero in Dickinson.
Western North Dakota -- and the Dickinson area in particular -- "are the big winners if you like warmer temperatures," Merriman said.
That's because the central and eastern parts of the state will have a harder time warming up as the Arctic air moves east.
One last shot of deep-freeze temperatures -- near 20 below zero -- is expected early today in and around Grand Forks, said Brad Hopkins of the NWS in Grand Forks. But by noon, it should be above zero, albeit only a matter of (a) degree.
"That's 10 degrees warmer than what we had (Thursday)," Hopkins said.
After Saturday morning's low of a few degrees below zero, it should stay above zero night and day in Grand Forks through the next week, Hopkins said. "On Saturday we are looking at a high around 20 (above)."
But until then, conditions will remain dangerously frigid into Friday morning, with wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero, he said.
Although Dickinson's low temperature hit minus 18 degrees at 7:56 a.m. Thursday, accompanied by a wind chill of 46 below at 8:56 a.m., it wasn't the coldest area in the state, according to NWS records. The lowest temperature in North Dakota on Thursday was recorded in Crosby and Bowbells at minus 26 degrees.
The lowest wind chill was minus 51 degrees and was reported in three places, two miles north of Rolla, Rugby and Minot Air Force Base.
The Arctic blast is heading to the Great Lakes, where it should remain bottled up over Hudson Bay at least through Feb. 10, Merriman said.
That means there's no more cold snaps predicted for the area -- at least through the seven-day forecast.
"Weekend highs are in the mid-30s across the Dickinson area, getting into the upper 30s by Monday," Merriman said, adding that there are expected to be periods of light snow.
According to NWS records, the normal high temperature for Dickinson on Thursday was 28 degrees. The record low of minus 36 degrees was set in 1917. The record high is 60 degrees and was set in 1992.
For anyone wanting to measure just how painful it will feel this morning in?Grand Forks, the weather service has a handy online site that provides a calculation tool: fill in the temperature and wind speed to find out how cold it feels to an average person walking into the wind with a bare face 5 feet off the ground. And a contrast to the "old" style of figuring wind chill from the 20th century is right there too.
Stephen J. Lee of Forum News Service contributed to this report.