“When you’re talking climate trends versus weather trends, it was a busy year, weather-wise,” said NWS Meteorologist Timothy Lynch, who studies long-term weather trends. “But it’s not really something I’d say is a long-term trend, per se.”
The Grand Forks NWS office covers a region roughly from Bottineau, N.D., to Baudette, Minn., and south to the South Dakota border. The first severe thunderstorm warning was issued on April 7, and the last was issued on Sept. 24 – a fairly typical date range, Lynch said, though the end of September is fairly late in the season for a severe storm.
The severe summer weather was driven in large part by warmer temperatures and increased moisture, which helped create favorable conditions for several high-wind weather events.
From a scientific standpoint, he said one of the most interesting weather events that occurred, possibly nationwide, came on July 8, when a destructive tornado formed rapidly above Otter Tail County, resulting in significant property damage and the death of a 30-year-old Battle Lake, Minn., man.
That storm developed so quickly, Lynch said that even watching it happen on radar was “a little bit scary.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a storm develop that fast,” he said. “I’d say if there was a highlight of the season of scenarios I’d like to study and get a little bit better grasp on, I’d look into that setup right there.”
It’s difficult to project any long-term trends based on this season, Lynch said, due in part to the weather variability of the region, and in part to a change in the way the NWS issued warnings a decade ago. To understand the bigger picture long-term, Lynch said additional research and study is necessary.
What meteorologists can project is that a moderate-strength La Niña likely will cause colder temperatures this winter, as well as near-normal precipitation. That’s unlike the moisture-heavy winters seen in the area over the last few years, Lynch said.
After a dry September in Grand Forks and warmer temperatures forecast in the upcoming week, Lynch said residents of the Red River Valley can look forward to a pleasant fall.
“I know I’m going to enjoy it,” he said. “It looks like it’s actually going to be a nice fall this year. In the near-term, that’s good news.”