A KIWA listener posed a very good question to us — they asked how long it’s been since we’ve had a winter like this.
KIWA’s own Frank Luepke — the official National Weather Service Observer for Sheldon did some research and came up with this response.
He says it’s a very complicated question….there are at least three factors at play here.
First of all, it was an extremely dry September through December period. Certainly, he says it was one of the driest. Our 1.60 inches was even dryer than the dustbowl 1930’s. Luepke says that during the 30’s we had lots of dry, hot summers, but there always seemed to be one big rain in the fall each year. 1939 did have only 1.85 inches. Luepke says he didn’t add up this four-month period for all of the last 100 years, but it looks like our 1.60 could very well be the record.
Secondly — we’ve had a significant lack of snow. Sheldon has only recorded 4.2 inches so far this winter. Normally we have about 12. If not a record, it’s pretty close, says Luepke.
Finally, It’s also been a very warm January. Lots of days in January have seen 50 degree temperatures over the years. He says the hottest was 69 degrees on January 9, 2002. It was 66 degrees on January 24, 1981, 65 on January 25, 1944, and 66 degrees January 27, 2002, for example. But this many days in a row of warm temperatures could be unprecedented.
The question remains for you to answer — have we ever had a winter like this before?
With highs around the 50’s on Monday and predicted highs in the low 50’s in northwest Iowa tomorrow, the heat wave continues.
But — it sounds like this may be the end of the VERY mild temperatures for a while. National Weather Service Meteorologist Billy Williams at the Sioux Falls office says we should expect a change.
Williams lets us know what to expect.
He says Thursday will have the coldest temps. Then, we return to a little more normal temps for the weekend with highs in the 30’s. But even those highs are quite warm for January.
We asked him when our best chance would be to get some snow, but he said there are really no significant chances on the horizon, and didn’t want to predict more than a week or so out at this time. The official 6 to 10 day weather outlook does call for normal temperatures and normal precipitation in northwest Iowa.
By Scott Van Aartsen