For the record: Last five months has warmest average high temp everThe Jamestown area is enjoying a record book winter, according to the National Weather Service. The five-month period from Sept. 1, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2012, had the warmest average high temperature ever recorded, at 47.4 degrees.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown area is enjoying a record book winter, according to the National Weather Service. The five-month period from Sept. 1, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2012, had the warmest average high temperature ever recorded, at 47.4 degrees.
Detailed temperature records in Jamestown go back to 1948.
“The temperatures have been much above normal for the past months,” said Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist for Forum Communications Co. “The precipitation for the past months has been closer to normal but way under the last three years.”
The 47.4-degree average exceeds the next closest winter of 1963 through 1964 when temperatures averaged 47 degrees. During the winter of 2005 to 2006 the average for that period was 45.7 degrees, with 45.3 degrees recorded in 2001 through 2002.
“We all have short-term memory,” Ritchison said. “We remember the bad weather more than the good, but we had some very nice winters in the past 10 years.”
The average temperature, determined by averaging the high and low recorded each day, was 19.9 degrees during January. That’s nearly 10 degrees warmer than normal. The NWS recorded 17 days of “January thaws” during the month with temperatures above freezing.
“We haven’t seen the full stats yet but I would guess that this January will be in the top five of all-time warmest January,” Ritchison said.
Ritchison said January 2006 stands as the warmest January on record for North Dakota.
The warm temperatures have reduced heating costs across the region.
The number of heating degree days, the average daily temperature subtracted from 65 degrees, stands at 4,355 this heating season in Jamestown. This is 1,007 or nearly 25 percent below normal.
“Natural gas demand is down with the warmer weather,” said Mark Hanson, spokesman for Montana-Dakota Utilities. “Roughly as much as 15 to 20 percent at times compared to average years, but things change in a hurry if we get colder than average.”
Hanson said the dollar savings to consumers was not available.
The warmer-than-normal weather is credited to the Arctic oscillation, according to Ken Simosko, meteorologist for the NWS in Bismarck.
“Earlier we thought the La Nina would bring cold and wet weather,” he said. “But the Arctic oscillation is dominating the La Nina.”
Simosko described the Arctic oscillation as air flows generated by the air pressure above the Arctic Ocean. The current low pressure tends to bring warm and dry conditions to the Northern Plains while high pressure would bring cooler and wetter weather.
“Nothing indicates any changes in the next week,” Simosko said. “Things could cool down next week but not to real cold.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com