The higher elevations of western North Dakota are far more prone to early snowstorms than here in the Red River Valley.

There are also typically more warm days out west than here. The reason for this is not specifically the higher elevation, but the slope of the land.

When a low-pressure system moves across South Dakota, it develops an east-to-west wind field across North Dakota. Air moving across North Dakota goes from an elevation of 899 feet above sea level in Fargo to 2,959 feet at Bowman, N.D. The change in elevation results in about a 10% drop in air pressure that forces the air to cool according to Charles’ Law.

This is also why air being released from a tire feels cool. In any case, this cooling can sometimes be enough to turn rain to snow. The reverse process can result in down slope winds from the Rockies, resulting in very warm air across western parts of North Dakota.

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