What happened to winter? Meteorologists say it's on the way
There is little hope for a white Christmas in Dickinson this year.
Though temperatures will probably not hit record highs, the National Weather Service in Bismarck is predicting it will be close, and the chance for snow is next to nothing.
"The southwest part of the state amounts has been minimal," NWS meteorologist Richard Kinney said Saturday. "The major storm tracks have taken most of the storm systems to the north and to the south of us."
The NWS is forecasting temperatures in the mid- to high-40s for the Dickinson area, which is higher than the average normal temperature of 26 degrees. The NWS is also predicting no snow with partly cloudy skies.
The record high for Christmas day was set in 2005 at 51 degrees. The record low was set in 1996 at 29 degrees below zero. Normal snow accumulation for December lingers around 3.5 inches.
In 2009, Dickinson received a record-setting 11.4 inches of snow, which also caused a statewide no travel advisory to be issued.
Kinney said the lack of snow is a big factor in the higher-than-normal temperatures.
Dickinson received trace amounts in November, and Kinney said December is turning out to have the same story.
"Normally chances are that you are going to have a white Christmas, but that's not being the case this year. That can really change the trends of how temperatures occur when you don't have any significant snow cover to help hold things down," he said.
The NWS defines a white Christmas as having 1 or more inches of snow on the ground. The probability of having a white Christmas is usually is greater than 50 percent. The northeast part of the state has a chance of 90 percent or more.
Visitors and residents alike have been amazed by the high temperatures and lack of snow.
Donna Crewes of Austell, Ga., who is visiting North Dakota for Christmas, said the weather was beautiful, but she wanted to see the snow her relatives had been talking about.
"We really wanted it to be a snow and see the beautiful scenery," she said. "I was disappointed that there was no snow."
While North Dakota is not getting the usual snowfall, other states -- mostly to the south -- will experience a white Christmas. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said snow has been falling in Texas and New Mexico for two days.
"Considering they are the only ones seeing snowfall, it is a little uncommon," he said. "Some areas of west Texas has seen 5 to 6 inches of snow."
Temperatures have been abnormally high for December, Kinney said, but he said that will change soon.
"As we look through later January, February and March -- the heart of the winter -- we still are, in general, looking at below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation," he said.