What will 2018 bring?
By the time you're reading this, Christmas either has arrived or has gone. But I'm writing it in the hectic days before the holiday, with my mind half on my work and half on the cards left to be addressed, the food to be prepared, the church conc...
By the time you're reading this, Christmas either has arrived or has gone. But I'm writing it in the hectic days before the holiday, with my mind half on my work and half on the cards left to be addressed, the food to be prepared, the church concert to attend, the gifts left to be wrapped - oh, who am I kidding? - the gifts left to be purchased.
But if you're reading this, that all happened and I've moved on to other things. New stories, new tasks. And soon a new year.
What will 2018 bring? Will the prices go up? Will the rain fall? What will we be hoping for at this time next year?
In December 2016, those of us in central North Dakota wanted the blizzards to stop hitting us with pinpoint precision. If there even was a 10 percent chance of snow in the forecast, we started to expect a foot of fresh powder and 50 mph winds.
At that point, we couldn't have known that the weather story of 2017 wouldn't have anything to do with piles of snow. We didn't know only months later we'd be watching the skies and hoping any cloud would come over us and drop something - anything - wet.
In my newspaper days, I very often volunteered to do weather stories when anything of note was in the forecast. I knew those stories would get read and were offering needed information to readers. It was a ticket to the front page, as well as a way to do my duty of informing people.
So I wrote about drought and wildfires in 2006. I kept charts as snow piled up in Bismarck in the winters of 2008-09 and in 2010-11. Then, I helped write about the effects of floods when the melted snow and rains swelled rivers in 2009 and 2011. I wrote about drought in 2012.
I have come to remember years in part by the weather about which I was writing. So, I remember that I was pregnant with my older daughter while I road a boat with sheriff's deputies through flood waters from the Missouri River in 2011. And I remember being profoundly thankful when that winter and the winter of 2015-16 were lacking in snow as I neared due dates an hour from the hospital.
Since 2017 was my first year covering agriculture full time, and I spent a lot of that time writing about drought and its effects, I'm quite certain that's what I will remember from the past year.
What will the story of 2018 be? Will we be so wet that my colleagues and I write about prevented plantings and flood damage? Or will we see another year of dry grass and fires?
For what it's worth, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center shows a higher likelihood for below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation in this region for the next three months.
Outside my house, we have next to no snow, though the short-term forecast says that's likely to change by the time you read this. And beyond that, anything could happen.
We don't know yet about 2018's defining characteristic. We don't know how to plan or what to expect. There could be blizzards or torrential rains or devastating hail. Or there could be perfect growing conditions, timely rains and sunshine aplenty.
And, since I live in North Dakota, I'll just assume there will be wind.
Whatever 2018 brings, I hope the rains fall when you need them and the sun shines when you want it to.