Cold weather in Hill City

By Gray Hughes

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FROZEN MAIN STREET [PN Photo/GRAY HUGHES]

Cold weather has made its way to southern Black Hills.

But, in spite of the single-degree highs, the recent bout of cold air the area has received is nothing compared to some of the previous lows, said Susan Sanders with the National Weather Service in Rapid City.

“Hill City’s lowest low negative 39 degrees in 1990,” she said. “More recently, in December of 2016, it was negative 32 degrees.”

During last week’s polar vortex, which dropped temperatures into the negative degree range throughout much of South Dakota, Hill City was relatively warm.

As a matter of fact, the coldest temperatures of January came at the beginning of the month.

“Generally, we have cold air coming down from Canada,” she said. “It’s the jet stream up north that comes south that brings extremely cold air from the poles. A lot of times with this cold air, it’s dense and you have high pressure, and most of the time when you are in the middle of that pattern there isn’t a lot of wind.”

Last week, though, Sanders said the wind kept the air temperatures feeling low because of the wind-chill.

However, Keystone, Hill City and the rest of the Southern Hills often time will receive warmer air from the Pacific Ocean that keeps the temperatures warmer than the rest of the Midwest.

This week’s cold temperatures will be low again. However, the air will not feel as cold because the wind will not be as bad.

“One of the big things that people need to realize when there is a wind chill is that the wind chill can give you an idea of how fast you can get frost bite,” she said. “Wind-chill of 30 below can give you frost bite in 30 minutes. If the wind-chill gets down below negative 40 you can get it in five minutes. Kids waiting for the bus, getting gas, it is going to be in that time frame so it is not difficult to get frost bite when the wind chill is that low. Cover skin, wear gloves, wear a scarf, wear warm clothes, layers, have clothes in your car even if you aren’t going far. You don’t know if you are going to be stuck or you get in an accident.”

Temperatures this week, though, will be below what is common for the first week in February.

From Feb. 10-15, there is also a possibility for above-normal precipitation.

The end of February, though, is the end of the metrological winter.

“In March we start spring and it looks like we should be warming up until April,” she said. “Obviously that makes sense but we are going to be warming up more than normal. There is no trend on precipitation at this time, but March is typically our snowiest month, and we can have snows in April. It is still cold enough for the precipitation to be snow.”

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