S.D. climate update: Record-warm fall, December forecast to bring more heat

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A record warm autumn ended in a winter storm across South Dakota on the last day of meteorological fall.

“The snow was a large transition with eight weather stations setting new records for warmest fall seasons (September through November) according to preliminary data from the S.D. State Climate Office and National Weather Service,” said Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist. “A warmer than average fall season was predicted by the Climate Prediction Center, and that forecast certainly held true for South Dakota this year.”

The eight stations recording their warmest fall season were Bison, De Smet, Edgemont, Lemmon, Maurine, Summit, Watertown and Waubay. Another 53 climate stations ranked fall 2015 among the top 10 warmest. Todey said the remaining stations ranked this fall among the top 20 warmest.

November 2015 temperatures overall were not as remarkable. Fewer than 10 stations ranked the month among the top 10 warmest. “About 15 stations across the state ranked in the top 15 warmest on record. Temperatures were closer to average at the end of the month which kept the state away from establishing more records,” explained Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist.

She explained that the significant snowstorms which hit mid-month and again on the last day of November punctuated the end to autumn.

Sioux Falls sets snowfall records

Sioux Falls set two, single-day snowfall records in the same month. A handful of weather station locations in the southeast, including Sioux Falls airport and Canton, ranked Nov. 2015 among the top five wettest in more than 100 years. Some other stations scattered across South Dakota also landed this November among the top 10 wettest; including Mt. Rushmore, Philip, Pickstown and DeSmet.

Some volunteer weather observers with the CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network network reported more than 20 inches of snow for the month; including the November 30 to December 1 storm.

There were also some dry locations, which have been depicted in the U.S. Drought Monitor as Abnormally Dry (D0) for most of the month, primarily in the northeast and west – with Wasta and Ft. Meade (near Sturgis) ranking Nov. 2015 among the top 10 driest.

Climate forecast for December 2015

“The outlook for December shows relatively high probability of warmer than average conditions,” Edwards said. “Beginning the week of Nov. 30, the newly fallen snow will quickly melt as warmer temperatures return.”

The updated outlook, released Nov. 30, 2015 by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, shows a 60 to 70 percent probability of warmer than average temperatures for December 2015 in northeastern South Dakota, with slightly lower probabilities over the rest of the state.

Northwestern counties are slightly more likely to be drier than average. “This area has had some events come through this fall with hit-or-miss storms,” Edwards explained. “To our south, much of Nebraska is leaning towards wetter than average conditions in December. There remains some possibility of a more active storm pattern which could reach southern or southeastern South Dakota, as we saw with the snow storm a couple of weeks ago that brought several inches of snow to that area.”

Dec. 15, 2015 Attend Climate and Agriculture Workshop in Mitchell

On December 15, 2015 a one-day workshop will bring climate and agriculture together. Edwards and Todey are hosting the event in Mitchell at the Davison County 4-H building, at 3200 West Havens.

They will present climate trends, tools and resources for using climate information in row crop production, primarily focusing on corn and soybeans. Other presenters from South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension and USDA’s Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub will show some best management practices for considering climate in agronomy, insects and plant diseases.

–SDSU Extension