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Environment

The National Weather Service's 'Winter Climate Outlook'

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SDPB

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

Our weather is what we experience day to day and our climate is best understood over a longer time frame.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the three-month winter climate outlook. It’s designed to help people prepare for weather trends in the months ahead.

Expect more wet and cold conditions than normal December through February for the upper Mississippi River valley.

That does not necessarily imply the winter is snowier-than-normal. Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

A La Niña weather pattern effects the upcoming winter season. That’s the term for a climate pattern based on cold water around the equator in the central and eastern pacific.

"A lot of people wonder what does that cold water in the Pacific have to do with the weather in South Dakota?"

National Weather Service Hydrologist Melissa Smith explains

"So what tends to happen with that cold water, it pushes the jet stream further North. As that happens We tend to pull in some colder Canadian air during our wintertime period of December through February."

The impacts of La Niña weather patterns have varied throughout time. The drought that preceded the Dust Bowl of the 1930s was caused by both a La Niña climate pattern and a great period of cyclical drought.