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Dry, Cool Pattern Continues & Drought Persists

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Dry conditions persist in the Dakota's as a cool and dry weather pattern has moved in. This week's drought monitor paints a picture that many of us already know.
For 16 weeks the state has seen increasing drought conditions leaving many to wonder when it will start to let up but this weeks drought monitor shows no signs of relief. The drought monitor remains very similar to the last two weeks with over 50 percent of the state in an extreme drought. Lack of measurable rainfall last week only added to the slowly worsening conditions and unfortunately with little to no rain in the forecast things are bound to get worse.

While the overall long wave pattern has started to transition into a fall-like pattern, the moisture is fairly starved. Generally lows that move out of Canada this time of the year are fairly moisture deficient. We rely on what is called the low-level jet to tap into gulf moisture and funnel it north towards our area. However, this time of the year we generally remain mostly cut off from the gulf moisture. Over the next few days we will have some very potent systems move through the region but with a lack of mositure the chance for rain showers will be nearly nonexistent for us. These lows however will bring in a big change in temperatures.

300mb wind speeds plot the jet stream which moves systems around the globe. Notice the highly amplified jet stream above. This allows very large temperature swings to be possible when it brings cool Canadian air south and warm, dry southern air north. The plot above is the forecast for this weekend, specifically Friday evening. This shows a very large trough with an associated low pressure in the Great Lakes. It is forecasted to dig south into the northern midwest this weekend bringing with it cool, dry air.

The cool, dry air will filter in from the north thanks to a northerly breeze. With clearing skies Friday night and calming winds temperatures are forecasted to fall at or below freezing for many of us. Notice in the picture above the blue line represents the zero degree celsius isotherm (line of constant temperature). That is the freezing line. It extends fairly far south into south and eastern South Dakota. Many of these areas will likely see a frost or even a hard freeze. While we have already had our first official frost in many areas, a hard freeze would likely end the growing season early.

The cool air will stick around for Saturday afternoon as many areas in the east will struggle to reach into the mid 50's.
The cool down will be short lived as a ridge of high pressure builds in from the west and ushers in warmer temperatures springing afternoon highs back up to around seasonably average.
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