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January Thaw

January 9, 2014, 6:26 PM by Chris Dexter

January Thaw

The term "January Thaw" is often tossed around this time year to reflect a period of noticeably warmer temperatures in the middle of winter. While it's hard to pinpoint exact evidence as to why it happens, there's actually a statistical "bump" in the temperature across the plains about the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

The pattern for KELOLAND typically favors a prevailing northwest wind with Pacific air rushing over the Rockies, which leads to warmer temperatures. The extent of these warmer trends varies from year to year, often affected by snow cover.

The current snow depth map has quite a range. Rapid City, Yankton, and Vermillion all have little or no snow on the ground. Sioux Falls has about 4", and Clear Lake has around 11". While it's still early to predict how much snow will melt, it's reasonable to expect a steady decline on snow coverage. 

Often, these warmer spells of weather are both preceded and followed by very cold arctic outbreaks like the one we just experienced. So the wise advice is to take advantage of the milder temperatures while they last. We still have 70 days of "official" winter to go.

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