Snow -- at least a little -- headed this way
Overall winter weather forecasts for the Jamestown area are still up in the air, but meteorologists said snow is probably on the way Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
"The last several winters, we've really gotten used to there being so much snow, and we forget that it's not unusual to go into December and not have any snow," said John Wheeler, meteorologist with WDAY. "We're not always hip-deep in it by now."
The National Weather Service does not typically keep track of the first snowfall for each year, but generally, the average snowfall is zero in September, half an inch in October and 6 inches in November.
"The first of November is when you can typically say the snow season starts," said Bill Abeling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
This November, however, has been unusually dry, with only 0.8 inches of precipitation. Early last week, there was snow in the Minot area, but it has mostly already disappeared, Abeling said.
It's also been a full 3.8 degrees above the average temperature.
Abeling predicted those conditions will not continue.
"In the next week or so, we're going to see a strong change to much colder temperatures, and a chance for more snow," Abeling said. "There's no big blizzards on the horizon, although we will see some windy periods and some snow coming up on Wednesday night and Thursday this week."
On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement indicating that accumulating snow and blowing snow will be possible on Wednesday, with northwest and north central North Dakota favored for some of the higher snowfall amounts.
"Total snowfall accumulations are expected to be light," the statement indicated.
There could also be blowing snow, Abeling added.
"As we get further into the future, for next Monday... we're looking at highs of 15 to 20 next week," Abeling said.
The winter ahead could also be difficult, he warned.
"Now we can't say we're going to get a duplicate of last year, by any means, but it looks like it's going to get colder, and then we'll start picking up some above normal precipitation," Abeling said.
One reason for the possible lower temperatures and increased snowfall is La Nina, a long-term ocean atmospheric circulation that suppresses thunderstorms over the Pacific and changes weather patterns elsewhere.
"Over the years that this has been observed, we have seen ... below average temperatures and above average precipitation in the winter months," Abeling said. "We are of course not saying significantly colder or significantly higher precipitation, but on average (weather will be) colder and wetter."
Because it is the second consecutive La Nina, it may be milder this year than it was last year, Wheeler said.
"We're probably going to get some snow, and there's no guarantee that it's going to be a hard winter," Wheeler said. "Who knows? We've had two or three hard winters in a row, and maybe we're due for a softer one."
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
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