Cooler, wetter weather pattern to continue

The Northern Hills area has seen lower temperatures and more moisture this summer and that trend is expected to continue into fall. Photo courtesy of Brittany Kahl

NORTHERN HILLS –– Following a wet and cool winter that lingered into spring and early summer, that trend will continue into the fall.

“It definitely is cooler this year than we have seen the last … three or four years,” Alzina Foscato, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said Wednesday. The National Weather Service has many towers around the Black Hills area which measure a number of statistics including temperature and precipitation levels.

In Spearfish, the warmest average temperature this July was around 88 degrees. The last time the Spearfish weather station recorded triple-digit temps was in 2016. In 2013, Spearfish only had a few 100-degree days. Neither 2017 nor 2018 hit triple-digit temps in Spearfish.

This year, the average temperature in Spearfish for June was 88 degrees, July was 88 degrees, and August so far has been 87 degrees. In the recent past, Foscato said, those monthly average temperatures were closer to the mid-to-upper 90s.

As for Belle Fourche, in 2018, two 100 degree plus days were recorded — one in June and one in August. In June, the average temperature was 88 degrees, July was 91 degrees, and for August so far, the average is 93 degrees. 

In Lead, 100-degree temps have not been recorded since 2014. However, the mile-high city rarely hits triple-digits. The average temperature in Lead for June was 87 degrees, July was 88 degrees, and 84 degrees for August so far.

According to data from the Fort Meade weather station, the area registered 100-degree plus temps in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The average temperature in June was 88 degrees, 90 degrees in July, and 91 degrees for August so far.

Monthly precipitation amounts are more than double the average in some areas this summer.

In July, Spearfish had 5.23 inches of precipitation. The average July brings about 2.1 inches, and the record for July in Spearfish was 7.84 inches in 1923. For Belle Fourche, July brought 3.87 inches of precipitation with the July average being 1.78 inches and the record being 5.95 inches in 1922. 

Lead hit a precipitation record in July, receiving 8.8 inches, beating out the previous record of 8.29 inches in 1997. The average July precipitation is 2.65 inches.

For Fort Meade, the July precipitation was 7.53 inches. The July average is about 2.36 inches and the record is 10.33 inches, occurring in 1905.

Foscato said the weather pattern has been a noticeable cyclical trend throughout the years. 

“In 2005-2007, June, July, and August, they seem to have hit over 100 degrees, but then the next few years, they looks like they got to the upper 90s,” she said. “And then 2012-2013, they had a few more days of hitting (the 100-degree area). And then all of a sudden, they don’t quite hit triple digits, and then we go back into it (the weather pattern).”

Since 2015, Foscato said, the cooler, wetter weather cycle began to emerge in the Northern Hills. 

“So we’ve kind of gotten into this pattern again,” she said. “The last few years have been wetter and this year has been cooler and wetter.”

Coming into fall, Foscato said, the trend is expected to continue.

“For the rest of August, we are looking at below average temperatures and, once again, above average for moisture,” she said. 

Through October, the area is forecasted to see equal-to-below normal chances of precipitation and temperatures look to be either close to normal or slightly above average.

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