BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — As a blizzard slams the Northeast, mid-winter warmth is breaking records in the northern Plains.
Record-high temperatures in the 50s and 60s were set in parts of the region Monday, and Tuesday temperatures climbed higher, reaching 73 degrees in Rapid City in western South Dakota, and 62 degrees in Dickinson in western North Dakota, according to National Weather Service reports.
On Monday, Rapid City and Dickinson, along with the city of Williston in western North Dakota, broke warmth records, with highs ranging from 50-68 degrees, according to the weather service. Dickinson's previous record of 49 had stood for 84 years.
Residents may have the tumultuous weather to the east to thank for the unseasonable reprieve.
"Cold air from Canada is actually dipping down into the Northeast, and we're getting mild air out of the Pacific," said Todd Hamilton, a weather service meteorologist in Bismarck.
Lacking snow cover in the western and central Dakotas also is contributing to the warmth, Hamilton said. The eastern parts of the states have more snow, and Tuesday's temperatures there were expected to be as much as 30 degrees cooler — but still warm for this time of year.
The northern South Dakota city of Aberdeen — which saw a nearly 50-degree high Monday — was forced to shut down its outdoor skating rinks.
"We've closed them for the next few days while we're getting through this crazy weather," Recreation Superintendent Gene Morsching said. "It's just not worth it to keep them open. The ice deteriorates."
The mild weather wasn't expected to last long with a cold front forecast for Wednesday bringing a chance of light snow to the region. Even colder weather is expected by the weekend, with some overnight lows dropping back below zero.
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