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Putting Things Into Perspective: What's Average?

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Looking back over the past few months of weather, it’s hard to believe that just one year ago; we were dealing with flooding! In fact, just a few months ago, we were dealing with above average monthly rainfall in places like Madison. Less than a month later, we fell just over three inches below average in. From there, the drought only worsened. In the graphic shown, you can see that in July; the drought situation went from bad to worse. At this point, we were dealing with an extreme drought. Now, we’re dealing with the most severe drought category: an exceptional drought.

Parts of central Nebraska have been dealing with an exceptional drought for a while now, but it wasn’t until early July that we fell into the severe drought category. Things rapidly deteriorated through the month of July and August as we continued to fall below average on rainfall. Here’s a look at the departure from average rainfall so far this year.

On top of the lack of rainfall, we’ve dealt with the extreme heat. It’s obvious that we’ve been dealing with above average temperatures for the past couple of months, but you may have forgotten just how warm this past winter was. Each month, so far this year, has seen temperatures of at least one or two degrees above average when looking at a month as a whole; but you may be surprised to find out that March was the month that took the cake! In the image below, you can see the departure from average temperatures we’ve seen so far in 2012. Sure, June and July were extremely hot, but when you consider what is average—it wasn’t outstanding. In March of 2012, we were a whopping 16.9 degrees warmer than average for the entire month!

With this year’s weather being so dramatically above—or below average in terms of temperature and rainfall, respectively; it almost seems pointless to look at averages when looking into the future. However, as the seasons change; it’s interesting to look ahead at how cold we may get. In the image below, the map shows when different places see their first freeze, on average.

Just a reminder, today is September 11. Between now and September 20, on average, places in northwest North Dakota, north-central Minnesota, and northern Wyoming would be seeing their first freezes. Between September 31 and 30, most of South Dakota would be seeing their first freeze and the following week; the entire state would.

Obviously, 2012 has proven itself to be anything but average; but with temperatures dipping into the upper 30s over the past weekend and cooler temperatures in the forecast, you can bet that we are well on our way to seeing our first freeze sometime in the next month or so. Stay tuned to KDLT and KDLT.com as we continue to bring you the latest.

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