First Frost?

Hector Int’l briefly dropped down to 34 degrees this morning. NDSU’s thermometer, part of their North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, dropped to 38 degrees, the Moorhead Municipal Airport dropped to 37 degrees and our cooperative observer dropped to 38 degrees. So in other words, non of the "official" thermometers in town dropped to or below freezing this morning. This guarantees us a year without a frost in September.

About three out of four years the first frost in Fargo occurs in September, so this year is slightly later than the average. The latest first frost of the autumn season occurred on October 24th in 1994. I doubt we’ll be threatening that record this year, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until at least the 5th or 6th of October before we’ll have another threat of frost in the area.

WDAY Almanac

A lot of people don’t know this, but our WDAY weather web site has an Almanac link which has a database allowing the user to go back through the history of weather for Fargo, North Dakota. Find out what the high temperature was the day you were born. See how much snow fell on your 16th birthday. It can be fun looking through past weather. Sometimes, our memories have a funny way of not correlating well with the facts.

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The First Day of Autumn?

Thursday,
September 22 will be marked by many as “The First Day of Fall”. But does it
really mark the beginning of a new season? I’d be the first to say no. It is
certainly the Autumnal Equinox. On that day the direct rays of the sun will
fall on the Equator as the direct rays slowly progresses southward to the
Tropic of Capricorn on or about December 21, marking the Winter Solstice. Then
“back north” the direct rays of the sun will go until eventually reaching the
Tropic of Cancer on or about June 21.

As
most people realize our seasons are created by the Earth’s 23.5 degree tilt
relative to its orbital plane. So depending on the time of year, the sun’s
direct rays (90 degrees perpendicular to the earth at solar noon) will fall somewhere between
23.5 degrees North (Tropic of Cancer) to 23.5 degrees South (Tropic of
Capricorn). This relative tilting toward or away from the sun at any one
location causes the angle of the sun at solar noon to vary by 47 degrees anywhere
north or south of the tropics. In Fargo,
for an example, on the Summer Solstice (June 21) the sun is 66.5 degrees above
the horizon at solar noon producing a much higher solar flux (think
energy) then on the Winter Solstice (December 22) when the sun is only 19.5
degrees above the horizon at solar noon. It no wonder the shadows are
so long in the winter (and it’s so cold)!

In
a perfect world, especially when dealing with the summer and winter season, you
would think the coldest and warmest times of the year would be directly
correlated with the days of the year the sun is either the highest or lowest in
the sky, but because of “seasonal lag” the warmest and coldest times of year
tend to occur about 3 to 4 weeks after the high and low sun peaks. I think
because of this seasonal lag (summers still warm after the high sun of late
June and winters still cool after the low sun of late December) that the
"myth" of the equinoxes and solstices being the start of
seasons.  I’ll contend that the Autumnal Equinox is called that because it
occurs in the "fall" season, not that it starts autumn.   The
same could be said for the Summer Solstice, the Vernal Equinox (spring) and the
Winter Solstice.

If,
for example, 21 days of September is in "summer" and 21 days of June
was in “spring”, why is it that September is colder than June in just
about every mid-latitude city?  That is just some food for thought. 
In climatology the three warmest months are considered summer, June through
August.  The three transitional cooling months of September through
November are the autumn season.  The three coldest months of December
through February is considered winter and the three transitional warming months
of March through May would be the spring season. I have and have owned many
calendars that were made and used in other countries, but it’s only the
American calendars that classify these days as “season starters” as this
concept seems to be very American. 

Truth
be told, no season begins magically on any day, seasons are gradual transitions
over a given period of time based on your location (and climate).  
But hopefully on December 21 or 22nd when you hear it’s the first day of
Winter (or even September 22 for autumn)  you’ll think to yourself, yea,
right, winter (autumn) started long ago in Minnesota and North Dakota.  ;-)

Rita

It’s a little like arm-chair quarterbacking to be in North Dakota and to be talking about which direction a future hurricane might take. But after Katrina, the subject of a hurricane in the Gulf is suddenly a lot more than just casual water cooler talk.

First of all, check out the latest from the National Hurricane Center before you read anything I write about where any hurricane might be headed.  As of this writing, Rita is a tropical storm, just shy of hurricane strength, and just about ready to move past the Florida Keys and into the gulf.  While it looks as if Mississippi and New Orleans will be spared, the concern is about the Texas coast.

There is a huge amout of petrochemical industry along the Texas coast, especially around Galveston Bay and southward along the coast to just north of Corpus Christi.

While another Katrina sort of disaster is not likely, Rita will likely be a major hurricane at landfall.

Personally, I’ve never been in a hurricane. However, I did live in Alabama and Louisiana as a child and my grandparents lived in Kemah, Texas, on Galveston Bay. They went through many hurricanes, including the very strong Carla in 1961. I still have my grandmother’s 8mm movies she took of the wreckage after Carla.

I’m wondering if anyone locally (North Dakota/Minnesota) has any good hurricane stories.

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Fake Storm Photos

The internet is a strange place. Several times this summer, I’ve been sent a set of digital photos of spactacular storm scenes. Note that I said I’ve received this set several times. Each time, the pictures are supposed to have been taken recently by a friend of a friend of the sender and each time, it’s supposed to be a different storm.

Now obviously, these same pictures can’t be from a Rothsay storm and a West Fargo storm and a Watertown storm all at the same time, especially since the storms happened at different times.

The puzzle is… why? Where’s the thrill in duping people by showing them old pictures and claiming they’re something other than what they are?

Like I said, the internet can be a strange place. Here are the pictures. They are pretty cool. They’re just not from around here.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s gotten these pictures… who sent them, etc. I’d like to find out where they came from and who originally took them and when.

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The Summer of 2005

After the cool summer of 2004 (the 6th coldest on record), the summer of 2005 came in very close to the long term average, temperature wise at least. The three month average temperature was 69.2 degrees, which is very close to the seasonal average of 68.5 degrees. The average high temperature for the summer was actually about 1 degree below average. The high amount of soil moisture from rains in June and August, plus the cooling effect of daytime clouds attributed to this, but on the opposite side of this equation, the summer’s average low temperatures was 2.4 degrees above normal. Summer clouds and rain may keep the daytime temperature a bit cooler, but cloud cover and soil moisture will keep the overnight temperatures a bit warmer. This summer served as a good example of this.

Although the summer was fairly typical temperature wise, rainfall of course was another story. The 3 summer months had a total of 17.05 inches of rain, which made it the third wettest summer on record (with records going back to 1881). June ranked the 5th wettest, July was quite dry with only a bit over one inch falling the entire month. August started off dry and warm, but quickly turned cooler and wet with 7.52 inches of rain falling making it the third wettest August on record. So if July wasn’t such a dry month, this summer could have easily turned out to be the wettest on record, but again, it turned out ranked number 3.

The warmest temperature this summer was 95 on June 23 and the coolest was 45 recorded the morning of August 22.

Test Entry

Black clouds hung over the Fargo-Moorhead area Monday evening, putting
residents on high alert for nearly two hours but sparing the area of
any major storm damage.

For most of the region, heavy lightning seemed to cause the most anxiety.

In Horace, N.D., reports of a tree engulfed in flames and a power line
sparking nearby came in shortly before 8:30 p.m. A police dispatcher
said the tree had been struck by lightning and that the caller thought
the power line may also have been hit.

The tree was about 30 feet from a house.

Within 15 minutes of the Horace call, a handful of Fargo apartment
buildings, businesses and hotels reported fire alarms going off.

In addition to the lightning, strong winds and a gushing of rain also blasted the Fargo area Monday night.

Nearly three-fourths of an inch of rain was reported at Hector
International Airport, according to Mark Ewens, a National Weather
Service meteorologist in Grand Forks, N.D.

Several streets in
Fargo and West Fargo sustained temporary flooding throughout the early
evening, but no major flooding was reported to the National Weather
Service, Ewens said.

It was a severe storm, but it wasnt extremely damaging, he said.

Winds gusts got as high as 45 mph  enough to knock over two campers in
the parking lot of the Wild Rice Bar in Horace, according to dispatch
reports. No one was inside.

Tornadoes also threatened the Fargo-Moorhead area in the early part of the evening but never materialized.

The radar indicated strong rotations, prompting the National Weather
Service to issue a tornado warning. Ewens said they received no reports
of actual touchdowns.

The storm system originated near Jamestown, N.D., and moved east.

No precipitation is in the forecast the next couple of days for Fargo,
but thunderstorms could return Thursday night, Ewens said.

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-70s today and will climb back into the 80s by the end of the week.