Below Average

By now most of you have probably heard that we set a new
daily record low this past Wednesday when Hector International dropped down to
-31 degrees breaking the old record of -30 degrees that was set in 1889.

Not only did we break the daily low
temperature mark that day, we also broke the record low maximum record. The high on Wednesday was -9 degrees; the
previous coldest high temperature for that date was -8 degrees set in 1939. The average high and low this past Wednesday
was 25 and 8. That means our low was 39 degrees
below average and our high was 34 degrees below average.

If we could have turned that day around
and had temperatures that far above average it would have been a day with a low
of 42 degrees and a high of 64. We can
dream can’t we?

Low Lows

Some lows this morning around the area:

Moorhead:  -27
Fargo: -31 (new daily record, old record -30 in 1889)
Grand Forks: -33 (new daily record)
Devils Lake: -34 (new daily record)
Michigan, ND: -36
Cando, ND: -37
Langdon, ND (NDSU site): -36
Strandquist, MN: -38
Detroit Lakes:  -27
Fergus Falls:  -31
Wahpeton Airport:  -31

Snowy Madison

Last week Madison,
broke their all-time
snowfall record of 76.1 inches with another six weeks to go in the potential
snow season. They have added another 8 inches of snow in the past week for a
seasonal total of around 84 inches as of this writing.  

They have recorded 43 separate snowfall
events since December 1 which averages out to a snow event every other day. 

Most of Madisons
snowy winters have occurred during a La Nina. 
I was recently asked how cool does the equatorial Pacific
get during a typical La Nina.  The answer is approximately 2 to 5 degrees Celsius
(4 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit) below the long-term average ocean temperature.  

That may not sound like much, but the cooler
water changes both the surface and upper-level wind flow patterns around much
of the planet.

What’s wrong? Nothing.

Severe weather outbreaks in the south, drastic swings in temperatures
over the United States, and heavy
snows in the Midwest, it has been quite the
winter.  I have heard comments that this
winter has been freakish, unusual, rare and even the phrase what is
wrong?  This winter from a historical
perspective is simply put, a very normal La Nina winter. 

The equatorial Pacific
is currently colder than average, or its cool phase, which
is commonly referred to as a La Nina. 
Every La Nina winter is obviously different, but it is fairly common to
see strong severe thunderstorm outbreaks in the winter and spring during La

The last time we had a winters
like this was back in 2000-2001 and in 1998-1999 which just happened to be a La
Nina winters that had above average snowfall from Iowa
into Wisconsin
and severe weather outbreaks in the south. 


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Dry January

For the second straight year we saw a January finish in the Top Ten driest years on record.  January of 2007 saw just 0.10" of liquid equivalency and January 2008 that we just finished saw just 0.09" which made it the fourth driest January on record. 

That moisture did amount to 2.8" of snow, but most of that sublimated away quickly as it was all in the form of very fluffy dustings.  We continue to be slightly behind  the long term average for snowfall this winter, but it will only take us one storm to get back to seasonally norms.

Temperature wise, the first half of January was about 12 degrees above average, the second half was about 12 degrees below average, so the month finished pretty close to the long term average.  The exact number was 0.5 degrees below average which continues the trend for this winter to be slightly below normal with one more month to go.