Halloween Weather

In the greater Fargo Moorhead area, we should
expect cold weather for Halloween. With an average high of only 46 and an
average low of 27 it takes a day well above average to make trick-or-treating
an event where a jacket and mittens are not a requirement. Recent years
have lived up to this cold reputation as three of the past five years have had
high temperatures only in the low 30s.

Last year, the high temperature was only
31 and there were a few snow flurries in the air. The last year with
measurable snow on Halloween was back in 1995 when one inch of snow fell.
But Halloween has also seen its share of mild days.

Back in 1999 it hit
74 and that was followed by two more mild Halloweens in 2000 (when a
thunderstorm moved through during the evening) and 2001 when we hit 60.

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Orange Sky

Although it looks cloudy and we may not have an
opportunity to see it locally, the sky tonight will have a little bit of a
Halloween flavor to it.  The Moon and Mars will be very close to each other and
should become visible around midnight.  Mars will appear to be a bright
orange/red “star” just to the upper-right of the Moon.  If you up early enough,
they should be directly overhead tomorrow morning just before sunrise (probably our best opportunity to see it
locally). 


The clouds expected tonight that could limit our opportunity to see a
bit of orange in the sky are associated with a cold front that will bring with
it much colder and windier conditions to the area for this year’s Halloween. 

Cloudy First Half

It will surprise no one when I say it has been quite cloudy in recent weeks, which is one of the primary reasons we did not see our first frost of autumn until Monday of this week. With all airports now using automatic equipment and cloud ceilings not being measured above twelve thousand feet, it is more difficult to equate our cloud cover this year with other years. 

One location nearby that does have such records is the climatological observatory at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul.  They recently sent out a press release mentioning that the first three weeks of October were the cloudiest stretch for that time of year in the 45 years the observatory has been measuring solar radiation. 

Granted, that measurement is from two-hundred miles away, but I would not be surprised if the same could be said for our area as well.

Low Pressure

Last week’s storm that moved through our region
with widespread rain and wind had a barometric pressure reading as low as 28.80
inches in Minnesota. Most barometers in homes only go down to 29
inches and although the pressure here in Fargo Moorhead did not go that low,
many residents of Minnesota
probably saw their wall barometer bottom out.

The pressure reading of this storm was very similar to what was recorded
during the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940.
However, without the cold air present, wind speeds were not as high with
this particular storm. Storms that
intense are as strong as some hurricanes and last Thursday during the height of
the storm there was a "precipitation eye" to the storm.

In other words, the center of the storm had a
precipitation free zone around the center of circulation, although, no true eye
could be seen on satellite imagery like a true hurricane.

The Long Winter

This past weekend I was having a conversation with an old friend about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, especially her book “The Long Winter”.  In the course of the conversation the question was asked if there really was an early October blizzard as the book states. 


The answer is a definite yes. 


Back on October 15-16, 1880 one of the earliest blizzards ever recorded struck eastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa with wind gusts over 60 mph, heavy snow and drifts over 15 feet high.  Although much of this first storm’s snow did melt, many more storms through the winter did keep the railroads from running, food became scarce and many rural residents were trapped on their farmsteads until the following April, just as described in the book.

Cold Winter

The southern hemisphere is now well into their spring season
leaving behind what was a very cold winter in many areas.  Granted, some locations finished above
average, that is the nature of weather patterns, but colder than average
temperatures were the more dominate weather event these past several
months.  

Southern
Brazil
for instance had four consecutive months of below average
weather with numerous records broken. 
Much of Argentina
saw winter temperatures averaging 5 to10 degrees below the long term average
with Buenos Aries having their first snow since 1918.  Santiago,
Chile
had their
coldest winter since 1885 where temperatures averaged between 10 and 12 degrees
below seasonal averages. 

Other parts of
the southern hemisphere also saw record cold weather including South Africa and
especially Australia where June ended up being the coldest on record over much
of the country.

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Dry to Wet

Fargo/Moorhead and many other communities in southeastern North Dakota and west central Minnesota are currently running severalinches above average for yearly rainfall. Almost the entirety of this surplus can be attributed to the very wet conditions we had from late April into early June. Rainfall amounts since have generally been near the long term average.

When we were wet earlier this year, eastern Minnesota was very dry, but things have turned around in a hurry. Many locations in eastern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities are now very wet after briefly experiencing drought conditions earlier this year.

The Twin Cities, Rochester, Winona, even Embarrass, all set a record for the wettest August and September on record. October has also started off wet in that region.

Pattern’s like these always reminds me of the old English proverb “There is no debt so surely met, as wet to dry and dry to wet”.

 

The Last…

Last Saturday it hit 87 degrees in Fargo/Moorhead and
the most asked question for the last several days has been, “did we break the
record”?  As I am sure you know by now,
we did not, the record high for last Saturday was 90 degrees. 

Our latest 90 degree reading was on
October 17, 1910, but extreme high temperatures drop off very rapidly this time
of year.  Our latest 80 degree reading is
just one week later than our last 90, occurring on October 25, 1989.  Our last 70 degree day was on November 17,
1953.  If it was not for the one warm
December 6th in 1939 when we hit 65, our last 60 degree day would have been November
20, 1893. 

So in other words we are
quickly coming to that time of year when we have to treat a 50 or 60 degree day
as mild again.

September Weather

September is a transitional month for us in the Red River Valley as we go from the warmth of
summer quickly to the chill of autumn. 
Last month we indeed had days that felt both like July and November. 

Taken as a whole, September 2007 finished 2.6
degrees above average, thanks mainly to the four 90 degree days we experienced
during the month (we average one).  You
take away those four hot days and the rest of the month was average or even
slightly below average for temperatures.  

The month also finished above average for
rainfall, but most of our rain occurred during two events, one on September 8,
the other on September 20 and 21.   Of
course, it was the last thunderstorm on the 21st that not only
brought us rain, but probably the most memorable event of the entire month,
baseball sized hail early that morning.