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Cold snap to give way to seasonal temperatures

Lows of minus 21 degrees for consecutive nights this week came as a chilling surprise to many. The severe cold snap was not necessarily indicative of what’s yet to come this winter in the Minot area, but rather the result of a combination of happenings according to Jason Angling, National Weather Service lead meteorologist in Bismarck.

“It’s been a little chilly out there,” said Angling. “The Minot area cleared off and opened the door for cold air to come down from the north and then the clouds rolled in and trapped it in there.”

The result? Sub-zero temperature readings, the kind of cold normally associated with a North Dakota winter but not anywhere near what has been occurring so far in this winter of warmer than average temperatures and less than expected precipitation.

“If you like winter it’s been kind of a boring winter,” remarked Angling. “Last winter at this time there was a lot more snow.”

Winter is not over and more cold temperatures and dumps of snow are certainly possible, but the amount of sunlight is increasing daily and indicators are, at least for the short term, that the Minot region will see a return to temperatures more common to the date on the calendar.

“More sunlight, yes, but there generally is a bit of a time lag to get to that warmer weather,” explained Angling. “You’ll probably have an average kind of warm but we’re still in the winter months. You have to let the season play out.”

Average daytime highs for this time of year are in the mid-20’s. That increases to the low-30’s by the end of February. Overnight low temperature averages for the same time frame are 3 to 13 degrees above zero. Even though there is a La Nina influence to our weather for the next few months, it may not have much impact.

“The only trend, according to the Climate Prediction Center, is for a slight chance of above-normal precipitation,” said Angling. “For temperatures it is an equal chance of above or below-normal. There’s just no indicator of colder or warmer temperatures at this point.”

The short-term outlook calls for a return to more seasonal temperatures, even a bit warmer than usual.

“Through the weekend it will be gradually warming and early next week back into the low 30’s,” said Angling.

As for any severe winter storms poised to pounce on the region, not in the near future.

“We are watching one kind of mid-week next week, but it’s a long ways out and trending a bit north,” said Angling.

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