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December fourth coldest on record

WDAY Meteorologist Daryl Ritchison said after a brief warm up on Friday, the cold air returns.

Everyone who shivered a bit and thought this past December was one of the coldest Decembers on record was right. Records from the National Weather Service indicate that December 2013 ranked as the fourth coldest of all time in Jamestown.

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The average temperature for the month was 4.6 degrees, according to Patrick Ayd, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck. The coldest December ever for Jamestown occurred in 1983 when the average temperature was minus 1.

The year 2000 was the second coldest with 2.3 degrees, and 1964 was the third coldest at 3.2 degrees.

For comparison, the average December temperature in 2011 was 23.9 degrees with 2012 recording a 13.4-degree average. The 4.6 degrees recorded in December 2013 is nearly 10 degrees lower than the average December Jamestown temperature of 14.3 degrees.

Ayd said the cold December weather was due to a large ridge of high pressure over the Pacific and Alaska funneling arctic air into the Midwest.

“This gives us a pattern of cold weather followed by a day or two break and then another bout of cold weather,” he said.

That pattern continues with the high temperature Friday anticipated to top out near the freezing mark followed almost immediately by more cold weather.

“Monday and Tuesday may bring us the coldest air mass of the season,” said Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist for WDAY. “Probably the coldest in about four years.”

Ritchison said actual temperatures could vary based on cloud and wind conditions but overnight lows Sunday and Monday of minus 27 are in the forecast.

Ritchison said the current weather patterns are expected to continue at least through the middle of January although he doesn’t anticipate an entire winter of bitterly cold weather.

“Most seasons you don’t see a continuous streak of three months below or above average,” he said. “At some point we should see a break with a bunch of days of warmer-than-average temperatures.”

The cold arctic air has brought in little moisture resulting in limited snowfall through most of the month. Still, Ayd said Jamestown was above average in snowfall with 10.1 inches of snow falling during the month compared to a normal of 6 inches.

“That mainly came in one storm,” Ritchison said. “The rest of the month just a lot of dustings.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at