By Tim Leeds
Residents of north-central Montana may have noticed an unseasonably warm trend the last month and a half, but it hasn't broken any records yet.
"It is a little unusual that we have been quite warm, but, you know, it happens," said Doug Vogelsang, a technician at the National Weather Service in Great Falls.
The average of the high and low temperatures in November and so far in December for Havre was 6.8 degrees above the norm. The average high temperature in November was 49.9 degrees, eight degrees above normal. The average low was 17.9 degrees, 5.4 degrees above normal.
The highs and lows so far in December are also above normal, with the average high of 40.9 degrees well above the norm of 29.6 degrees. The average low of 12.9 degrees is 4.9 degrees above average.
The warmest December on record was in 1957, when the average high temperature was 44.6 degrees. The hottest November on record for the Havre area was in 1949, when the average high was 56.2.
Vogelsang said a stream of air from the west is causingwarmth and dryness. That stream of air has kept cold air from coming down to north-central Montana from Canada and Alaska.
"We haven't had any major arctic intrusions. That usually happens a couple of times by now," he said.
The same pattern is causing a large amount of precipitation west of the Continental Divide and dry, windy weather east of the divide.
Vogelsang said that when an airstream comes from the west, it tends to drop a lot of moisture west of the divide. Once the air goes over the mountains, most of the moisture is gone, leaving dry relatively high winds for the plains east of the divide.
There doesn't look to be any major change in the weather in the next few days, Vogelsang said. The forecast for eight to 14 days predicts above average temperatures, but with average precipitation as well. Meteorologist Jim Brusda said that would amount to one significant snowstorm in the next couple of weeks. The Weather Service is predicting a chance of snow on Thursday and Friday.
The Weather Service is predicting a slight drop in temperature in the long range, with temperatures about average in the 30-day forecast. The Western Region Climate Center is forecasting about average temperatures and precipation through January.
On the Net: Great Falls Weather Service Forecast Office: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/Greatfalls/
Western Region Climate Center: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/