The winter outlook is here, and we’re keeping the T-shirts unpacked

El Niño hints towards a warm, dry winter in the Hills, but we still need to prepare for a cold, snowy winter if it takes its sweet time to get here

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Winter Outlook is here, and as suspected, there is a 70-75 percent chance of El Niño developing in the Eastern Pacific. That has ramifications for the Black Hills.

Our long-term forecast looks warm, dry and devoid of moisture. That can be good or bad, depending on who you’re asking. The pace at which warm waters decide to nestle along the South American coast will determine when this trend could set up. Before that happens, we could still see large swings of moisture, winter storms, thunderstorms, you name it, so keep on your toes in the short term.

Let’s talk about our weather short term, starting with the visible satellite of the United States. A large low-pressure system is churning off the East Coast, bringing the first snow to many places in the Northeast and northern Pennsylvania. Texas is under the weather, with large amounts of rainfall that is causing flooding issues. Bridges are being washed out, and homes submerged as the rainfall continues.

If you look toward the Canadian provinces, you can see the ridge of high pressure sitting just underneath a very active jet stream. There is hardly a cloud in the sky from Oregon to Minnesota, save for a few racing along the South Dakota and North Dakota border.

This trend keeps southerly winds streaming into our area and sinking air firmly in place. It’s hard to get clouds to go up when the entire atmosphere wants to move down. We’re looking to keep those clouds away for at least the next couple days.

So are these temperatures normal for this time of year? Generally, 60s for our high and mid- to low-30s for the low is normal for this time of year. We were well below normal during the first part of October. Now we’re talking a few degrees above normal on this warm Thursday, with highs in the 70s.

NAM 3km Temperatures through Sunday

Notice as we move through the next couple days, we nearly miss a left jab from Canada, bringing cool air to Minnesota and North Dakota, but missing our area almost completely. We warm right back up on Sunday as the ridge of high pressure fights back ferociously, unwilling to give up fall just yet.

SW winds shifting NW this afternoon

Our warm weather is thanks to the southwesterly winds that are gusting up to 30 mph in central South Dakota. These winds are going to shift northwesterly as a cold front wannabe races across our area. These winds won’t necessarily plunge us into colder weather, but it will halt the warming trend we will be seeing. Places in the Hills could see gusts up to 30 mph Thursday evening and Friday. The Plains could see more, both in Wyoming and further toward central South Dakota.

Now is the time to get work done, time to clean out the gutters and inspect the chimney. Warming trends are possible down the line, but chances are slipping that they will be as nice… and dry as this one. We will dip to the mid-50s on Saturday before bouncing back to the high 60s by Sunday.

The long-term forecast keeps us above normal but also keeps us dry. Watch out for fire, and remember that drought is drought, whether you are in summer, fall, winter or spring.

By next Wednesday, we look to be crashing back to reality, as precipitation chances look to increase by then.

Winter is coming…. but what that means will be different for everyone.

Planet Earth, Western Hemisphere 12:04 p.m. MDT 10/18/2018

Categories: Local News, Weather Team