SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dangerous temperatures ahead for 2022; weather, emergency officials advise caution

An update from the director of Stark County Department of Emergency Services on the current road conditions in the area as well as a forecast outlook from the Bismarck National Weather Service.

N.DP.WEATHER.jpg
A tumbleweed sits on a drift of snow in South Heart, N.D., on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. A wind chill advisory is currently in effect from now until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, for Stark County, according to the Bismarck National Weather Service. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
We are part of The Trust Project.

As the new year approaches, colder weather brings the return of a relatively normal North Dakota winter following two consecutive years with little snowfall and warmer than average weather. With a wind chill advisory in place until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28, for Stark County, weather and emergency management officials are advising the public to use caution when traveling or going outside.

“With the current wind chill advisory in Stark County, it is important for residents and those traveling through the area to remember that frostbite on exposed skin can occur in as little as 10 minutes,” said Director Shawna Davenport of the Stark County Department of Emergency Services. “Staying dry is imperative, wet clothing results in much faster heat loss from your body. Wear mittens or gloves and wear a hat, at least half of your body heat is lost if your head is not covered. Dressing with layered clothing helps to trap air between loose fitting clothing which helps to insulate your body, and make sure to always stay informed by following credible sources of information for weather related information such as local news outlets or local emergency responders.”

N.DP.STARK_ROADS2
Stark County's winter maintenance class learned best practices and safety protocols for operating winter snow removal equipment, including the blade (pictured) which is used to scrape down streets to remove ice and snow. (Dickinson Press file photo)

The no travel advisory issued Sunday evening by the Dickinson Police Department, Stark County Sheriff’s Office and North Dakota Highway Patrol was lifted 8 a.m. Monday. According to Stark County Department of Emergency Services Director Shawna Davenport, some roadways throughout Stark County are currently snow covered and icy. Davenport noted that if residents/visitors must travel, it is imperative that they do so with caution.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If you must travel, the best thing you can do is stay informed of the road conditions, and be aware of your surroundings,” Davenport said. “While the road may look clear, ice is still an issue; so taking things slower is necessary for safely getting to your destinations.”

Shawna_Davenport.jpg
Shawna Davenport is the first female Emergency Manager in Stark County history, a Dickinson native and mother of two. (Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press)

A look at this week’s forecast

Meteorologist Alex Edwards of the Bismarck National Weather Service reported to The Dickinson Press Monday afternoon that the state is finally seeing the colder air that is often commonplace in North Dakota winters. Leading up to New Year’s Eve, each day will be “bitterly cold with wind chill temperatures that bounce in and out between just cold and dangerously cold,” Edwards noted.

“We can see wind chills in the Dickinson area down to around 30 below the next couple nights, and then even colder by the end of the week as colder air spills in around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” Edwards said. “So we’re looking at wind chills in the early morning and overnight hours between 35 to 35 below zero in the Dickinson area. So definitely colder and it’ll stay here for a little while.”

Tuesday, weather for the Dickinson area will be mostly sunny with a high near 1 degree and wind chill values as low as -25. Tuesday night will be partly cloudy with a low around -16. On Wednesday, weather will be mostly cloudy with a high near -1, and a light northwest wind increasing to 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy with a low of -17. Thursday will warm up a tad with mostly sunny skies and a high of 6 degrees and will cool down in the night to around -14.

For New Year’s Eve on Friday, meteorologists predict partly sunny skies with a high near -1 and gusts as high as 18 mph. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low around -20. New Year’s Day will be sunny with a high of 2 degrees, featuring gusts as high as 18 mph. Saturday night will be partly cloudy with a low around -11.

“The difficult part about normal is our temperatures typically swing from one extreme to another… But in a normal, regular winter, we’re going to see a period of these kinds of temperatures,” Edwards said. “... Last year, we did see a little bit of that in early February. So looking past this week, we will see a little bit of a rebound back toward at least some not-so-bitterly cold temperatures, but that may not last as long. Our outlook through the rest of the winter is still leaning toward colder and possibly snowier as well. So there’s really no signal that will turn toward an exceptionally warmer winter like we saw last year. That was definitely out of the norm. So, more of this is to be expected rather than more of what we saw last year.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Harsher winter expected for 2022

Edwards recalled that last winter’s precipitation was “exceptionally dry.”

“Snowfall is a tougher one to pick out in a longer range forecast. We can see better signals for colder air, but precipitation can go either way. What likely (will) happen is it’ll be an improvement over last year, but that just speaks to how bad last year was for snowfall… Statistically, last year we were experiencing an El Niño year — it’s how the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific correlate to weather patterns across North America. And statistically, when we’ve had a mild first El Niño year, the second one can sometimes be quite a bit more active — precipitation wise,” he explained. “So there is a good sign towards that, but in the long-term models and outlook it’s still difficult to pick out details about snow. It’s a little easier to pick out details about cold (air).”

Staying safe during cold temperatures

He added, “The important part here is that with these cold wind chills, exposed skin is really what you have to watch out for. The wind acts to take away the barrier of warm air that your body produces. So if you have to be outside, which you really don’t want to, definitely bundle up. If you’re hitting the roads — especially eastward where snowpack roads may create hazardous driving conditions — you’ll want to carry some supplies in your car in case something does happen and you have to wait for some help. So think a little bit ahead before you go outside if you have to go outside, especially going into the New Year holiday because it’s going to be bitterly cold. Even 10 to 20 minutes with exposed skin can start to create damage on that skin.”

Davenport also encouraged residents to be prepared to brace for the elements.

“We are no strangers to cold winters in North Dakota. So with that, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure we are prepared for these times. Follow our social media pages for continual tips for winter safety and in the meantime — make sure your vehicles have an emergency kit stocked up, and that you are dressing appropriately for the weather,” she added.

If there are needs for winter gear for children in the community, contact the Stark County Department of Emergency Services at 701-456-7605. To stay informed during any season, Davenport advises people to sign up for Stark County Citizen Weather Alerts by visiting starkcountynd.gov/des .

Jackie Jahfetson is a graduate of Northern Michigan University whose journalism path began in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a freelancer for The Daily Mining Gazette. Her previous roles include editor-in-chief at The North Wind and reporter at The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich. Raised on a dairy farm, she immediately knew Dickinson would be her first destination west as she focuses on gaining aptitude for ranch life, crop farming and everything agriculture. She covers hard news stories centered on government, fires, crime and education. When not fulfilling deadlines and attending city commission meetings, she is a budding musician and singer.
What to read next
Most raindrops have a diameter between half a millimeter and four millimeters.
Dust devils were plentiful at this time last year.
This summer, much of the Southern Plains will experience worsening drought conditions.
This is almost triple the average for the period.