First Frosts Coming Later

With our weather expected to remain generally mild for a while longer, it is likely the Fargo Moorhead area will again make it into October without frost. We had a miserably cold spring this year, so it is nice that the weather is extending the growing season a bit on this other end.  Interestingly, this is becoming the new normal.  Back in the 1880s when weather record keeping began in Fargo Moorhead, the first frost of fall was usually in early September and sometimes in late August.  Over the past three decades, the average first frost date has shifted to September 30.  Over the past ten years, only two have had a frost in September.  The rest were all in October.  Although in 2004, it did get to 34 degrees August 20 and some light frost was observed on rooftops.  And while our fall frosts are happening later and later, there has been little movement of the average last frost of spring.  It remains about May 8.       Meteorologist John Wheeler

Late-Season Hot Temperatures

On September 22, 1936, it was 101 degrees in Fargo Moorhead.  This is the latest 100 degree day ever recorded here.  The record highs for each day are mostly in the 90s through October 6, after which the record highs are in the 80s until one rogue 90 degree day shows up from October 17, 1910.  The latest 80 degree day in the books was set on October 25, 1989, at 83 degrees.  The latest 70 degree day was the 73 degree day set November 1953.  The latest day in the 60s was the 65 degree afternoon on December 6, 1939.  The coldest record high for any day is 40 degrees, for several different days in January.    Meteorologist John Wheeler

 

 

Fake Weather

The number of fake articles about weather being passed around through social media on the internet is growing.  This is concerning because misleading information about weather can be expensive or even dangerous if people make decisions based on it.  This is also concerning because the growing trend suggests that people are becoming increasingly gullible to such things.  If people increasingly believe in whatever blips onto their smartphone screens then we have a problem.  From fake forecasts to ridiculous seasonal outlooks to junk science on either side of climate change, there is a lot of misinformation out there.  My advice is this; do not believe everything you read.  If something is complicated and an explanation comes along that makes it simple, it is probably wrong. Be cautious with information.  Question your own knowledge before you become guilty of passing this garbage along to others.   Meteorologist John Wheeler

The Year of the Flood in Media

Floods, not tornadoes, continue to be the weather disaster theme of 2014.  The extra-tropical remnants of Hurricane Odile spreading soaking and occasionally torrential rain across the Desert Southwest is just another example of flooding in the United States this year.  While the flooding has made news, it should be pointed out that the number of floods and the severity of the floods recorded this year are nothing out of the ordinary.  But with the Atlantic hurricane season very quiet and with the number of tornadoes this year well below average, most of the weather coverage in the news has been of flooding.  Probably the most anomalous and significant weather disaster anywhere in the United States this year is the ongoing multiyear drought in southern California.     Meteorologist John Wheeler

 

 

From Hot to Not

One year ago, the weather at the start of the school year caused controversy for being so hot.  Hot and humid weather forced many schools across North Dakota to close for several days.  From August 25 through September 15 last year, Fargo Moorhead had six days in the 90s and seven in the 80s.  There were seven more days in the 70s and just two in the 60s.  This year, over the same time period, there have been no days in the 90s and just four in the 80s.  There have been eleven days in the 70s, three in the 60s, and four days with highs in the 50s.  Weather over this 25-day period has shifted from about three degrees above average to three degrees below average.  It is not always hot at the beginning of the school year.  However, it is still much more likely to be hot in late August and early September than it is in late May and early June.     Meteorologist John Wheeler

More Aurora

There have been a few nights recently in which the Northern Lights have been visible across our area.  Auroras are common near Earth’s magnetic poles where the magnetic field concentrates the effect.  To get them this far south, it requires an explosion on the sun’s surface (coronal mass ejection) which sends a huge wave of highly charged particles toward Earth.  Aurora have been noticeably absent from our region for the last ten years or so because the sun has been quiet and there have been fewer solar storms.  But the solar “weather” is becoming active again so we will likely have many more opportunities to see the Northern Lights this fall.  Coronal mass ejections are reported so auroras can be forecast. Watch for notices on WDAY.  They are best viewed on a clear night without a bright moon, away from city lights.  Look to the north-northeast.  Although rare, sometimes they can become exceptionally brilliant and cover the sky.    Meteorologist John Wheeler

 

Weather, Climate Keep Changing

Weather swings naturally from wet to dry and back to wet again.  Since 1993, local precipitation has been 15-20 per cent higher than the previous 100 years. There was a twelve year drought here from 1929-1940 when precipitation was 15-20 per cent lower than the long-term average.  But there are climate swings that cannot be observed even in a human lifetime.  For example, salinity measurements of the sediments of Moon Lake near Cleveland, North Dakota, reveal a climate shift approximately 750 years ago.  For at least 1000 years prior to that, long-term megadroughts were much more common in North Dakota and the climate was generally much drier than it is now.  It was likely even drier than the climate today across western North Dakota and eastern Montana.  What we perceive to be “normal” weather today has not always been that way and we should not assume it will remain.           Meteorologist John Wheeler

 

 

Early-Season Cold Coming Later

Of all the months of the year, September may be the most skewed in terms of record low temperatures in Fargo Moorhead.  All the September record lows are old.  The most recent was 41 years ago on September 16, 1973. Of the 30 days in September, twelve date back to the 1880s with an amazing six set in 1885 alone during a remarkable seven-day stretch of early season cold September 1-7.  Five of the remaining record lows were set in the 1890s for a total of 17 out of the 30 record lows of the month still dating to the 1800s.  The remaining 13 record lows are scattered randomly, one or two most decades, until 1973.  And then there have been no September record lows since then.  Not surprisingly, this 41-year ongoing void of September record lows accompanies a trend of the average first frost date moving about two weeks later from its average a few decades ago.   Meteorologist John Wheeler

Fairly Average Temperatures

The month of August has the interesting characteristic of having had an average temperature precisely equal to the 30 year average.  Considering that June was exactly one degree above the average and July was 1.6 degrees below the average, it can be said that we had an average summer.  The daily high temperatures were a tad below average while the daily low temperatures were a tad above average.  This continues a trend of recent years of cooler days and warmer nights which is a factor of increased humidity. Rainfall was 1.79 inches above average in June, 1.15 inches below average in July, and 0.45 inches below average in August.  The wet start and dry finish equals out to a mere 0.19 inches above average for the summer.  Summer rain amounts were typically variable and so specific locations may be significantly wetter or drier than Hector Airport.      Meteorologist John Wheeler

Early Frost Forecasts Often Fail

Should a frost occur in the cool weather pattern expected later this week, it would be earlier than average, but not unusually so. Our region usually gets a few mornings close to freezing in September before the actual first frost.  In 2012, it got to 36 degrees September 9.  In 2011, it got to 34 on the 14th and actually got to 30 on the 15th.  In 2010, there were three nights in the mid 30s on the 8th, 16th, and 18th.  Back in 2009, it was 37 on August 30.  But the only year among the last five with even a moderately early frost was on the 15th in 2011.  Last year, it never even got below 40 until October 12 but it ended up being a cold winter.  So it is more likely to be close to freezing later this week than actually 32.  And even if there is a light frost late this week, it will have no bearing on the upcoming winter season.      Meteorologist John Wheeler