Marching into February, Southwest North Dakota has experienced dangerous wind-chill warnings. The above average temperatures that the region experienced in early January were not long-lived. Although January started with temperatures in the 40’s, the weather has since turned to extreme cold.
Much of North Dakota experienced wind-chill warnings this week with temperatures reaching 30 degrees below zero with wind-chill. This extreme wind-chill developed in much of Southwest North Dakota.
The cold temperatures and high winds resulted in a no travel advisory for most roads in North Dakota.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Schild, the extremely cold wind-chill is a result of arctic air pushing into North Dakota from the North.
“We are in a pattern where we will have some arctic air settling in the area from time to time,” said the meteorologist.
Jeff Schild continued, warning that with this arctic air, frostbite is a possibility and that with such extreme wind-chill, people should be prepared.
“You could get frostbite in 5 minutes with such cold temperatures, so be sure to wear appropriate clothing if you have to go outside,” he said.
The extremely low temperatures experienced this week are setting a precedent for the rest February. According to Schild, the Southwestern North Dakota region will likely continue to experience more below average temperatures over the next few weeks.
The impacts of El Nino, which were giving Southwest North Dakota unusually warm temperatures in January, have since died down. Last month, El Nino contributed to southern wind pushing into North Dakota. However, looking into February, even though the Pacific Ocean is in an El Nino phase, the warmed Pacific Ocean hasn’t linked with the atmosphere.
This lack of connection between the warm pacific waters and the atmosphere is contributing to the drastic change in temperatures.
“Looking at the long-term outlooks, it’s indicating that [Southwest North Dakota] may experience colder than average temperatures,” said Schild.
This region is also predicted to experience marginally above-average precipitation.
The combination of arctic winds, cold temperatures, and above-average precipitation create the possibility of dangerous weather conditions. People should be attentive to the weather forecasts because, as any North Dakotan can attest, the weather can change without warning.