Average temperatures for locations across central and northeast South Dakota, as well as west central Minnesota, have been much below normal throughout the first two-thirds of December. The average temperature through December 20th ranged from 8 to 14 degrees, which is 8 to 9 degrees below normal. Our current ranking through December 20th in the list of coldest Decembers on record puts our average temperature anywhere from the 9th to 16th coldest. The question up to this point is how does this December compare to some of the coldest Decembers on record? Looking back, December 1983 was the coldest on record by this time of the month ranging anywhere from 2 to 8 degrees across the region. This average temperature is from 5 to 7 degrees colder than our current average temperature. In fact, through December 20th in 1983, Aberdeen was standing with an average temperature of just 1.8 degrees, with 2.5 degrees at Watertown. December 1983 went on to become the coldest December on record across the region, ranging from an average monthly temperature of minus 0.5 degrees at Aberdeen and Watertown to 5.4 degrees at Pierre. Sisseton and Mobridge were both at an average temperature of 1.5 degrees for December 1983. To put this in perspective, the average temperature for the entire month of December 1983 was at a FRIGID 15 to 17 degrees below normal across the region.
Arctic air masses will continue to stream over our region over the next several days with much below normal temperatures. It looks like we will have a few more days closer to normal with less Arctic intrusions throughout next week. Needless to say, we are a long ways off the cold pace needed to bring us close to the bitter cold month of December 1983.