Weather Forecast


The winter that winter forgot: Warm January gives way to warm February

Last year, snow crowded the streets of Dickinson, often causing cars to drift into snow banks on State Avenue in Dickinson. Such is not the case this year as the same stretch of road, pictured below, was dry Tuesday. Meteorologists, who formerly predicted a cold, snowy January, said the jet stream stayed north of the state. If the weather pattern continues, southwestern North Dakota could be in for a warm February.

January has come and gone, but the snow has hardly come at all. Officials said Tuesday that the trend could continue into February.

"We're basically 10 degrees above normal going all the way back to (December). That's just an extreme amount above normal," Accuweather senior meteorologist Dave Samuhel said from State College, Pa.

Over the last 30 years, the average snowfall for Dickinson in January is 6 inches. Totals were not yet available for January, but the month has brought less than average snowfall, National Weather Service meteorologist Janine Vining said.

January was supposed to be colder and have more snow, according to earlier forecasts. However, the Arctic Oscillation, which is a "large-scale mode of climate variability," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has pushed the jet stream further north, bringing above average temperatures and below average snowfall, Vining said.

"The only place that has been below average of significance is in Alaska," she said. "A lot of the storms we would normally see moving down ... into us has stayed well to the north."

The 30-year average temperature in January is 16.3 degrees. While temperatures fell to 14 degrees below zero this year, the average was 23.3 degrees -- a difference of 7 degrees.

"It looks like the next 10 days or so we are going to be warmer than normal," he said "We may have to look beyond that before we really get some cold air drawn into this pattern."

Without the cold air, weather patterns cannot produce much snow, Samuhel said. Dickinson usually sees about 16.4 inches by this time of year.

Winter has been relatively brown with 1.6 inches of snow in November and December.

Five-year-old Hunter Honigsberg of Dickinson and his friends enjoyed playing outside Tuesday at Kostelecky Park. Honigsberg said he didn't miss the snow, but he did miss one thing that comes with it every year.

"I want to go sledding, but I don't want snow" he said.

Vining said the warm weather should not alarm people. The change in weather patterns are just the "year-to-year variance in climate," she added.

"Last winter was very cold and snowy, and people were getting scared because of that," she said. "Next year it could be the complete opposite."

Samuhel said winter could still be on the way, but it may not come until March and April.

"March and April can be pretty nasty," he said. "It might be one of those cases where it stays mild into February then it gets colder and snowier in March and April."

There is some debate about whether a typical North Dakota winter will come. Vining said temperatures could be average with an equal chance of snowfall being below or above normal.

"There might be a few days where we see some arctic outbreaks and it gets cold," she said. "When we start climbing out of February and going into March, those chances really fade away. We may not see very much of winter in what we think of as typical winter temperatures here in North Dakota."