Trying to find normal temperatures

Ron Burtz
“It’s not even Thanksgiving, but it already feels like January!” 
If you have found yourself saying something like that in the last couple of weeks, you’re not alone and you are also absolutely correct.
According to the National Weather Service office in Rapid City, the average temperature in Custer for the month of October was only 35.1 degrees, which was 7.8 degrees below normal for the 10th month of the year. 
In addition, meteorologist Eric Helgeson of the National Weather Service office in Rapid City reported that four of the last five days of October were actually colder than what is normal for January — the first full month of winter. 
Helgeson said temperatures on Sunday through Wednesday of last week “were even colder than what we would expect to have on a typical day in January.” 
“Normal highs for January are normally in the 30s and normal lows are generally in the teens,” he said. 
However, Custer wasn’t the coldest spot in the area, nor the snowiest by far. Helgeson said a cooperative weather observer in Edgemont reported a low temperature of -13 last Wednesday morning and by the same day Lead had received 38.1 inches of snow in October, which is double the normal amount for the month.
Helgeson observed that both the chilly temps and the amount of snowfall are out of the norm for this early in the season. 
“I don’t recall having an October where we’ve had four or five snow events already,” said the weatherman. “We’ve had one or two big storms in October (such as Storm Atlas in 2013), but having a succession of storms where it’s cold enough to snow, I don’t recall.”
By comparison, both the East and West coasts have had unseasonably warm weather in recent weeks, but Helgeson said the central part of the country is stuck in a “progressive pattern” of weather that has held on for nearly a year now. He said last summer’s persistent wet weather was no help, either, noting the constant rain would not allow temperatures to warm up.
Of course, when it comes to the weather, “normal” is a little hard to pin down. Essentially, normal temperatures for a certain time period in a specific location are determined by summing up the daily high and low temperatures (based on a midnight-to-midnight day) for every day of the period and then dividing the total by the number of summed values.
However, Helgeson said, “that doesn’t mean it can’t be really cold one week and really warm the next week.” 
“I think a lot of people are just looking for ‘normal,’” said Helgeson, adding that many folks in the area are saying, “Let’s just have normal weather.”
The bright side of the long-range forecast, according to Helgeson, is that we may actually get some of that “normal” weather, at least as far as temperatures are concerned. 
He said the chilly temps are expected to hang on until the middle of the month, but then warm up a bit. 
Helgeson said there are some signs the second half of November may be warmer — at least warmer than the first half of the month — which is some consolation.
Looking ahead to the actual winter months after the first of the year, Helgeson said, “The most likely outcome is near normal average temperatures for December, January and February.”
However, Helgeson said, as far as precipitation goes, “It looks wetter than normal officially, which means we could have more snow than normal.”  
So after a hopefully “normal” Thanksgiving Day with more moderate temperatures, it appears chances are good for a white Christmas and  a white New Years ... and a white Valentine’s Day ... and St. Patricks Day. 
You know. The new normal.

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