For the majority of December, people have been rushing outside with their beach towels looking to catch a tan… Well, not exactly.
By Frank Turner
But the Great Plains region has been experiencing above average temperatures for most of the month, and according to Adam Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist from Bismarck, the trend is going to continue.
According to Jones and the long-range weather indexes from the National Weather Service, everything is coming together for above average temperatures and below average precipitation for the month of January.
“The average temperature for this time of year should be around 27 degrees Fahrenheit for the high and around 5 degrees for the average low,” said Jones.
Although December and January should be a time of year where it hurts to walk outside, temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s will be common over the next couple of weeks, well above average for this time of year.
So why is the weather so nice? The National Weather Service uses several different long-term indexes, such as the Arctic Oscillation index and the el Nino index to not only predict the weather, but also to know what is causing it.
According to Jones, Arctic Oscillation and el Niño impact the pattern jet streams in the northern hemisphere, thus affecting the weather.
“Southern jet streams from the central United States are being pushed farther north creating warmer weather,” said Jones, “We also have a positive arctic oscillation which keeps cooler air in the north, creating a warmer than expected January.”
The National Weather Service also predicted less precipitation in January.
“Typically we get our precipitation from storm systems that come from southern Canada,” said Jones.
Jet streams are big drivers in building and setting paths for storms. Because the arctic and Canadian jet streams are being pushed farther north, the storms are being pushed north of our region as well, according to the National Weather Service.
Jones continued, “Most of the activity for storms looks like it will be in southern Canada and farther in the east by the great lakes. It looks like a fairly dry pattern for us, at least in the short term.”
Looking forward, the meteorologist said that as February approaches, it’s likely the weather may cool back down to more normal temperatures. As the weather indicators transition into a different pattern, more cool air might flow into the Great Plains region. This may result in cooler temperatures in February.
“If el Niño were to weaken or if the positive arctic oscillation turns negative, then it would allow cooler Canadian and arctic air to dive south into our region,” said Jones.
It seems like the nice weather could be only temporary, so don’t forget your beach towels and enjoy it while it lasts.