GRAND FORKS - “Average” is one of those terms that can mean different things to different people. Daryl Ritchison, interim director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, cautioned that could be the case when he predicts “average” or near-average 2019 weather in North Dakota.

“The ‘80s were dry. The ‘90s and early 2000s were about as wet as this area can get,” he said. “People have forgotten what dry is,” skewing some area residents’ expectations for 2019 weather.

He urged, “Rethinking what average is and how much precipitation you can expect.”

Ritchison spoke Dec. 13 at the annual Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks. The event was sponsored by North Dakota and Minnesota farm organizations.  His annual presentation seeks to help area agriculturalists better understand the weather outlook and how the 2019 growing season will be affected.

“Mother Nature gives so many clues (to upcoming weather). You just have to spend the time to sit down and figure them out.” he said.

Ritchison said he told his wife a few months ago that, “I don’t really know if I’m going to make any forecasts for 2019 at ag shows this next winter because my forecasts  last year (2018) were so phenomenally good. I really want to end on a high note.”

Here are his predictions for area weather in 2019:

January and February: “This winter will end up being very average.”

April and May: Precipitation close to average or a little bit below. “But I think we’ll get out on time on next spring. I’ll think we have a much better spring in ‘19 than we did in ‘17 and ‘18,” which were marred by late springs.

Summer: “Temperatures close to average in the area, warmer east and west” and “not as dry in the northern (Red River) Valley,” while southeastern North Dakota (parts of which received heavy precipitation in 2018) “will pull back on moisture.”