NORTHERN HILLS – This fall, the areas of Spearfish and Sturgis have broken previous low temperature records set a century ago while the Lead and Belle Fourche areas have ranked third coldest temperatures in the last six weeks.
Melissa Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Rapid City office, said the Northern Hills has had a colder than average fall season.
During the period from Oct. 1 to Monday, Spearfish set a new record with an average temperature of 35.9 degrees. Smith said that breaks the previous record of 37.8 degrees during that time frame, set in 1919.
The Weather Service’s Sturgis area station is located in Fort Meade, which also set a new record with an average temperature of 38.6 degrees, breaking the 2002 record when it was 39.3-degrees, on average.
Belle Fourche had an average temperature of 37.2 degrees, making it the third lowest average temperature for that 42-day stretch. The coldest average temperature during that time period was in 1919 with an average temperature of 34.5 degrees.
The record coldest average temperature during the fall in the Lead area is 31.7 degrees, set in 1919. This year, the average temperature was 34.4 degrees, making it the third lowest average temperature recorded during the period.
As for snowfall, most Northern Hills communities have gotten an above average amount.
So far this fall, since Oct. 1, in Spearfish, there’s been snowfall on nine days, compared to last year’s seven and 2017’s four, Smith said. The last time Spearfish has seen that many days of snowfall by this this date was in 1996 when there were 12 snowfall days.
Belle Fourche has had seven days’ worth of snow this fall. The last time Belle Fourche had about the same amount of snowfall days was in 2013 when the area had eight days of snow by this time.
Ft. Meade received six snowfall days so far this fall. The last time the area had a comparable amount of snow days was in 2006 with seven days.
“It doesn’t seem to happen very often … every 15 years or so,” Smith said.
In Lead, so far, there’s been 14 days of snowfall. This time last year, Lead had 14 days as well.
“Otherwise, we had to go back to 2009 when there was 15 days,” she said.
Smith said the area’s highest snowfall amounts include: Belle Fourche - 3.5-inches on Oct. 10; Spearfish - 4.5 inches on Oct. 10 and Oct. 21; Ft. Meade - 4.5 inches on Oct. 10; and Lead - 14 inches on Oct. 21.
The weather models are predicting a warming trend beginning this week, Smith said.
“It looks like our pattern starts to shift into a warmer pattern … beginning as early as this weekend,” she said. “And that looks like it’s going to continue for the second half of November into the first half of December.”
Although Smith said the weather service doesn’t have much of an outlook past mid-December, she predicts warmer than average temperatures for the next month.