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The Climate of Bismarck in the U.S. state of North Dakota is a semi-arid continental climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) typical of cities located in the Great Plains, with four very distinct seasons and great variation in temperatures over very short periods of time. The city's climate is characterized by long, cold sub-arctic like winters with moderate snowfall and dry summers which are typically very warm with occasional periods of extreme heat. Like other cities in the northern Great Plains, its climate is also fairly dry.

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Temperatures

Temperatures in Bismarck are variable throughout most of the year, with some stability in summer due to the yearly weakening of the jet stream. Nevertheless, there are four very distinct seasons, with great temperature variation. The warmest month of the year is July, when the average high temperature is 84.5 °F (29.2 °C).[1] Overnight low temperatures in July average 56.4 °F (13.6 °C).[1] The coldest month of the year is January, with an average high temperature of 21.1 °F (-6.1 °C), and overnight lows of -0.6 °F (-18.1 °C) on average.[1]

Monthly average high temperatures[1]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
°F 21.1 28.5 40.2 55.9 69.1 77.8 84.5 83.3 71.6 58.2 38.2 25.7
°C -6.1 -1.9 4.6 13.3 20.6 25.4 29.2 28.5 22.0 14.6 3.4 -3.5
Monthly average low temperatures[1]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
°F -0.6 7.8 19.1 30.6 42.8 51.6 56.4 54.7 43.7 32.1 17.8 4.8
°C -18.1 -13.4 -7.2 -0.8 6.0 10.9 13.6 12.6 6.5 0.1 -7.9 -15.1
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Extremes

The highest temperature ever recorded in Bismarck was 114 °F (45 °C), on July 6, 1936.[2] The temperature has reached or exceeded 110 °F (43 °C) in Bismarck a total of five times in recorded weather history. Two of those occasions were in the same five-year period: 111 °F (44 °C) in June 2002, and 112 °F (44 °C) in July 2006. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Bismarck was -45 °F (-43 °C), on both January 13, 1916 and February 16, 1936.[3][4]

Record highs for each month[5]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
°F 63 69 81 93 98 111 109 109 105 95 79 65
°C 17 21 27 34 37 44 43 43 41 35 26 18
Record lows for each month[6]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
°F -44 -43 -31 -12 15 30 35 33 11 -10 -30 -43
°C -42 -42 -35 -24 -9 -1 2 1 -12 -23 -34 -42

Precipitation

The climate of Bismarck tends to be dry, with yearly precipitation averaging only 16.83 inches (427.5 mm).[1] The wettest month of the year on average is June, when a majority of precipitation falls as rain from thunderstorms. June averages 2.59 inches (65.8 mm) of precipitation.[1] December is the driest month, averaging only 0.44 inches (11 mm),[1] as precipitation falls as fluffy, low moisture-content snow. In the winter, Bismarck averages about 41.7 inches (1.06 m) of snow annually.[7]

The 1990s were a very moist period for Bismarck. The earlier part of the decade was documented for heavy snowfall as the snowiest winter on record in Bismarck was the winter of 1993-94, when 91.7 inches (2.33 m) of snow fell, including a late-season 8.5 in (220 mm) snowfall on April 26, 1994. The later half of the decade was noted for heavy rainfall as 4.63 inches (118 mm) of rain fell, the most rain ever received in a standard 24 hour day, on August 21, 1998. In addition, just one year later, the second highest 24-hour rainfall occurred on August 12, 1999 with 4.48 inches.[8] This wet period led into an extended drought period in the early 2000s that continued into 2006.

Monthly average precipitation[1]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
inches .45 .51 .85 1.46 2.22 2.59 2.58 2.15 1.61 1.28 .70 .44
mm 11 13 22 37.0 56.4 65.8 65.5 54.6 40.9 32.5 18 11

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Monthly station normals (1971-2000), North Dakota, U.S. National Climatic Data Center [1]
  2. ^ Daily average and record temperatures for July, Bismarck, North Dakota, The Weather Channel. [2]
  3. ^ Daily average and record temperatures for January, Bismarck, North Dakota, The Weather Channel. [3]
  4. ^ Daily average and record temperatures for February, Bismarck, North Dakota, The Weather Channel. [4]
  5. ^ NCDC, Comparative Climatic Data, [5]
  6. ^ NCDC, Comparative Climatic Data, [6]
  7. ^ Average annual snowfall by month at selected locations, NOAA [7]
  8. ^ John W. Enz and Barbara A. Mahoney, North Dakota State University. Growing Season Summary for the 1999 Season.[8]

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