2015-2016 Winter 11th Warmest On Record In SD

Mar 17, 2016

The temperature topped 70 degrees on February, 18th 2016 in Rapid City. It was just one of the warmer than average days in the winter of 2015-2016.

The Equinox on Sunday the 20th marks the start of spring.   But many South Dakotan’s have already been enjoying some spring like weather.

Officials who track the climate in the state say the past winter was the 11th warmest out of the last 122 years of record.  That includes the timeframe from December 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016.  

Laura Edwards is the Extension Climate Field Specialist with SDSU based in Aberdeen.  She says the projections show the warmer than average weather may continue into this summer. But, Edwards adds that it’s hard to predict if the state will see more or less moisture in the coming months.

“I think there is kind of some pros and cons both, to how this could play out.   We could have a really nice growing season where warmer temperatures help things grow and be more productive.  But, also we could be challenged with some of these warmer temperatures, maybe seeing a little bit of drought in places here and there, may be some short term or moderate kind of drought at some point.  So, we’re just keeping our eyes open,” says Edwards.

Edwards says the warm winter was likely due to a combination of factors, including the strong El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean and climate change.  She says records show a general trend of warmer winters and earlier springs in South Dakota.