SIOUX FALLS AREA
CLIMATIC SUMMARY
1996

By Richard Ryrholm
Climatic Focal Point
National Weather Service, Sioux Falls

 

...1996 WAS COOL...DRY...BUT INTERESTING IN SIOUX FALLS...

 It was overall a very cool year in Sioux Falls and the surrounding tri/state area. Temperatures averaged out to 42.2 degrees for 1996 or 3.3 degrees below the normal of 45.5 degrees. This was the 4th coolest year on record and was very close to tying the 2nd coolest year since records began in 1893. The four coolest years on record were the following... 40.93 degrees in 1917... 42.14 in 1950... 42.15 in 1951 ...and 42.23 degrees in 1996.

The total precipitation at the Sioux Falls airport in 1996 was 19.84 inches or 4.02 inches below the normal at the airport of 23.86 inches. However, as usual, southern Sioux Falls received more for the year with around 24 inches in 1996.

Every month of the year was below normal in temperature except February and June. The coldest months compared to normal were March/April/May...July...and November/December. Please refer to the tables. Spring 1996 was the 7th coolest spring on record. Spring is defined meteorologically as the months of March/April/May. The month most above normal for the year...February...ironically had the coldest actual temperature of the year of 29 below zero on February 2nd. The warmest temperature of the year was only 93 degrees on June 28th.

Precipitation was generally on the light side compared to normal at Sioux Falls except for May and the autumn period from September to December. Spring and summer were generally dry with the notable exception of the month of May and also early August when thunderstorms produced timely rains. On the evening of August 6th thunderstorms produced at least an inch of needed rain for the crops but also the most widespread severe weather event of the year with strong winds...hail...and tornadoes in the tri/state area. However the summer of 1996 ended up as the 3rd driest summer on record at the Sioux Falls airport with a total of 3.89 inches...or 5.04 inches below the normal of 8.93 inches. This was not far from the 2nd driest summer of 3.86 inches in the notoriously dry and warm summer of 1976. The driest summer on record was 3.55 inches way back in 1894. Relatively cool temperatures and some timely rains alleviated the local dryness in the summer of 1996 in Sioux Falls.

The most inclement weather of the year occurred in the latter part of 1996 with the normally benign autumn period rather busy in the weather department.

The following is a summary of notable weather events in the Sioux Falls area in 1996...

1. On January 10th a period of freezing rain caused major disruption to the morning rush hour with numerous accidents in Sioux Falls.

2. Late on January 17th sleet and freezing rain changed to snow and blowing snow with near 4 inches snowfall. Northerly winds gusted to 55 mph at 323 am CST on the 18th.

3. On January 25th there was 7.5 inches of very fluffy snow at the Sioux Falls airport.

4. On February 10th strong west/northwest winds gusted to 58 mph at 1203 pm CST.

5. On the evening of March 24th sleet and freezing drizzle changed to snow and blowing snow with 4 inches snowfall recorded. Strong north/northwest winds gusted to 55 mph at 803 pm CST.

6. On April 25th at 418 pm CDT strong northwest winds gusted to 53 mph.

7. On June 5th from 615 to 625 pm CDT hail up to an inch in diameter and winds gusting to 60 mph occurred in southwest Sioux Falls.

8. On June 12th northwest winds gusted to 53 mph at 545 pm CDT.

9. On June 19th around 550 pm CDT thunderstorms again dumped one inch hail and caused wind gusts to 63 mph in parts of Sioux Falls.

10. In the evening of August 6th from 845 to 900 pm CDT winds gusted to 60 mph in parts of Sioux Falls associated with severe thunderstorms.

11. In the evening of October 16th into early the 17th unseasonably strong thunderstorms struck the area with frequent cloud to ground lightning... 1.23 inches of rain... 45 mph wind gusts... And some hail.

12. On October 29th intense low pressure moved over the area causing a small tornado southeast of Sioux Falls at 140 pm CST followed in the evening by strong northwest winds which gusted to 61 mph at 803 pm CST. The lowest air pressure of 28.93 inches with this system was the lowest ever recorded in the month of October. The lowest pressure ever on record was 28.63 inches on March 26th 1950.

13. On November 15th to 16th the worst ice storm in memory struck Sioux Falls and the surrounding area with between 2 and 3 inches of melted precipitation in the form of freezing rain...sleet...and some snow.

14. On November 23rd a snowfall of 5.2 inches was recorded at the airport along with some thunder and lightning.

15. On December 14th to early on the 15th 9.9 inches of snowfall was reported at Joe Foss field. This helped to bring the solidly packed snow depth to 15 inches by the 17th. Every day of the remaining 15 days of December was below normal in temperature. Below zero temperatures were recorded on 12 of these days bottoming out on December 26th with a low of 20 below zero.

THE FOLLOWING TABLES GIVE A MONTH BY MONTH BREAKDOWN OF WEATHER IN 1996 AT THE SIOUX FALLS AIRPORT...

TEMPERATURES

TEMPERATURES
AVERAGE DEPARTURE EXTREMES MONTHLY
MONTH MAX MIN MONTHLY FROM NORM HIGH LOW RECORDS

JANUARY 21.1 0.7 10.9 MINUS 2.9 53 21B
FEBRUARY 33.8 11.8 22.6 PLUS 2.9 65 29B
MARCH 38.6 16.2 27.4 MINUS 5.1 69 11B
APRIL 56.1 28.6 42.4 MINUS 4.5 79 18
MAY 64.2 45.5 54.9 MINUS 3.5 90 30
JUNE 80.4 57.1 68.8 PLUS 0.5 93 41
JULY 81.2 56.9 69.1 MINUS 5.2 90 43 6TH COOLEST
AUGUST 81.7 58.2 70.0 MINUS 1.4 92 47
SEPTEMBER 69.5 49.2 59.4 MINUS 1.5 86 34
OCTOBER 60.2 35.2 47.7 MINUS 0.9 81 16
NOVEMBER 31.3 15.7 23.5 MINUS 9.5 64 13B 3RD COLDEST
DECEMBER 18.0 2.5 10.3 MINUS 8.0 34 20B 4TH COLDEST

1996 53.0 31.5 42.2 MINUS 3.3 93 29B

NORMAL YEAR 56.8 34.2 45.5

PRECIPITATION (INCHES) AND WINDS

DEPARTURE             DEPARTURE    MAX WIND GUSTS... 
MONTH FROM NORM SNOWFALL FROM NORM DIRECTION/MPH/DATE

JANUARY .99 PLUS .48 15.4 PLUS 8.9 N 55 ON 18TH
FEBRUARY .16 MINUS .48 1.7 MINUS 6.6 NW 58 ON 10TH
MARCH .82 MINUS .82 6.9 MINUS 3.3 NW 55 24TH/25TH
APRIL .55 MINUS 1.97 2.0 MINUS 0.2 NW 53 ON 25TH
MAY 5.27 PLUS 2.24 0 NE 49 ON 24TH
JUNE 1.14 MINUS 2.26 0 NW 53 ON 12TH
JULY .98 MINUS 1.70 0 SE 40 ON 3RD
AUGUST 1.79 MINUS 1.06 0 W 39 ON 6TH
SEPTEMBER 2.82 MINUS .20 0 W 45 ON 27TH
OCTOBER 1.63 MINUS .15 0 MINUS 0.5 NW 61 ON 29TH
NOVEMBER 2.91 PLUS 1.82 11.3 PLUS 6.3 SE 41 ON 14TH
DECEMBER .78 PLUS .08 19.8 PLUS 12.2 NW 44 ON 16TH

1996 19.84 MINUS 4.02 57.1 PLUS 16.8 NW 61 OCT 29TH

NOTE MONTHLY PRECIPITATION RECORDS...APRIL 1996 WAS 8TH DRIEST APRIL...
JUNE 1996 WAS 5TH DRIEST JUNE...NOVEMBER 1996 WAS 6TH WETTEST NOVEMBER
...AND DECEMBER 1996 WAS THE 4TH SNOWIEST DECEMBER ON RECORD.

ALSO NOTE...ALSO MAX WIND GUST IN JULY OF 40 MPH OUT OF SOUTH ON THE
16TH

RICHARD S. RYRHOLM...CLIMATIC FOCAL POINT

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