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Dakotas in for nearly spring-like weather after cold snap; Pacific air to replace arctic air


BISMARCK, North Dakota — After a couple of weeks in the deep freeze, the Dakotas are in store for a stretch of nearly spring-like weather that will extend into next week.

High temperatures in the two states in the coming days are forecast to reach into the 20s, 30s and 40s above zero — a striking change from recent weeks, when overnight lows have dropped into the minus 20s and 30s and wind chills have plummeted even lower.

A change in the jet stream will allow warmer Pacific air to replace the arctic air that has been blanketing the Northern Plains, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Hamilton.

"It looks to be mild at least five to seven days ... all the way through the weekend and into early next week," he said Tuesday. "I think for most of us, we can say it's a welcome relief."

The change might be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or depression brought on by decreased daylight hours in the winter that contributes to changes in brain and body chemistry.

As many as 10 percent of residents in northern states are affected, and warmer weather that enables them to get outdoors can help them deal with symptoms, said Tara Kraft, who works in adult psychology at CHI St. Alexius Health Archway Mental Health Services in Bismarck.

"Any time you can be more physically active outside and socially active, it's going to help," she said. "Even the ability to just take a walk around the block is huge."

The warm stretch isn't unusual for this time of year, and it isn't likely to set any records, according to Hamilton. Winds from 15-25 mph also might cut into the warmth.

"But if we're 30 degrees and 20 mph wind, it's still going to be a lot better than what we've seen recently," he said.

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