Less Windy


July and August are the two least windy months
of the year in the Red River
Valley
.  July gets the nod for the least windy, but
just barely.  Both months long term
average wind speed is approximately eleven miles per hour.  

This time of year, July 15 through August
15, although not an official month of course, is historically the least windy
thirty days of the year.  Average wind
speeds in this time frame are even lower, around nine miles per hour.    Sure, we live on the prairie, there will be
windy days occasionally in the coming weeks, but if you live in open country
and get tired of the never endless breezes, this is your time of year to
cherish. 

Before long as the temperature
contrasts between Canada and
the southern United States
increases, so will our wind speed and our reputation as the Saudi Arabia of wind energy will
return. 

Heat Index


Not
only has this summer produced only a handful of hot days, it has also been a
summer
with few humid days as well.  But we still have enough summer left that
eventually we may need to mention the heat index in the forecast.  The heat index
combines the air temperature with relative humidity to determine an apparent
temperature.

When the human body
temperature rises, the hypothalamus gland activates the bodys heat regulating
mechanism and millions of sweat glands wet the body with sweat.  This perspiration evaporates which cools the
body, but high temperatures and high moisture content in the atmosphere limits
our ability to evaporate this moisture and our body temperature can rise
dramatically. 

If body temperatures rise
high enough, death can result, especially if body temperature rises to around
106 degrees.  Because of this threat, in
this area heat advisories are usually issued when air temperatures and dew
points are high enough to produce heat indexes of around 105 degrees or higher.  

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Dry to our North


So for this year 13.50 inches of rain and melted snow has
fallen officially in Fargo Moorhead. 
This is about one inch above average to this date.  So in other words, most of the immediate area
has received adequate rainfall so far this year, with some spots south of the
metro even seeing too much rain.  


But in
the northern Red River
Valley
, it has been much
drier.  Grand Forks, for example, has only had 7.05
inches of rain so far this year, almost one-half as much rain as we have seen
locally.   Some parts of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota
are once again listed as abnormally dry by the Climate Prediction
Center
. 


What rain that has fallen has been timely,
plus the cooler than average summer temperatures have helped as well, but areas
to our north will need some moisture soon or the word drought will be needed to
describe their situation.

Dolly


Although the Atlantic tropical season begins on
June 1, it usually takes until the end of July before most storms form.  This season did start early with Tropical
Storm Arthur, the remnants of a tropical system that started in the Pacific
Ocean, forming around June 1 and quickly moved into Belize with significant
rain and flooding. 

Since then, in
typical fashion, tropical activity was non existent until recently.  Hurricane Bertha weakened to a tropical storm
as it brought strong wind and heavy surf to Bermuda a little more than a week
ago, then this past weekend, Tropical Storm Cristobal formed near Florida and grazed the outer banks of North Carolina. 

Now all eyes are on the latest storm, Dolly,
which formed Sunday near the Yucatan
Peninsula
.   Dolly is expected to move toward south Texas and strengthen
into a Hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday Night or Thursday. 

Quiet Sun


If your schedule places you outdoors at night
frequently, you may have noticed that the northern lights have been rarely seen
for the past couple of years.  The reason
for this is the Sun is currently at the low point of its eleven year cycle
which is referred to as solar minimum. 

When the Sun is at solar minimum, last seen in 1996, the Sun produces
few if any sunspots and solar flares
that help trigger the auroras that we refer to as the northern lights.  Although we have all been taught that the Sun
goes through an eleven year sunspot
cycle, the length between cycles actually varies from any where between nine to
almost fourteen years.  

Although northern
lights can be seen during solar minimum, they will become more common again in
the coming years as the Sun moves toward Solar maximum, the time of more sunspots and solar flares.

Lack of 90s


Back on July 1 Fargo Moorhead officially reached
90 degrees for the first time this year (Plus July 11 we hit 91 for our second 90 of the year).   We average one 90 degree
day in May and two in June.  So this
year, we did wait a bit longer than normal to hit that magical number. 

But as recently as 2003, we did not get to 90 degrees until July 19.  Yet we still managed twelve days at or above
90 that year.  The thing is that 90 degree weather in our area tends to
happen in bunches. 

To use 2003 as an example, after a slow start, we
ended up having nine out of thirteen days in the middle of August with a high
of 90 or higher.  We average fourteen 90 degree days a year, so we have a
long ways to go to reach the average this year. 

But you never know, a year like 2003 may happen again

4th Weather


A year ago the official high in Fargo Moorhead was 89
degrees and that was the warmest 4th of July since 1989.  It was also back in 1989 that our record high
for this date of 97 degrees was set and since then 90 degree weather on the 4th has been absent.


Plus, with the record of 97 degrees, it may
surprise you that it has never hit 100 on this date since records started in
1881. 


Since that record high 19 years
ago, it has been in the 80s only six times, with most Independence Days seeing
a high just in the 70s. 

I say most of
the years because two of the years, 2004 and 1992, our high was only in the
60s, including the second coldest July 4th ever back in 2004 when our high was
only 65 degrees with some parts of the Minnesota lakes country seeing
temperatures only in the upper 50s that year.

Heavenly Delight

Many of us will be watching the sky this week for fireworks, but if you glance beyond the fireworks into the heavens you will see a special astronomical show.  

For the next several nights if you look due west about one hour after sunset you will see an encounter between Mars, Saturn and the star Regulus.  Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo.  It is the bottom star in the "sickle of Leo", or you can think of it as a backwards question mark in the sky.  They will line up from horizon upwards in the order of Regulus, Mars then Saturn for the next few nights. 

The three will be joined by a waxing crescent moon on both July 5 and 6 and on July 10, Saturn and Mars will nearly be touching each other as they will be separated by less than one degree. 

Enjoy the show.

Number 7


June 2008 was Fargo Moorhead’s seventh straight month with
below average temperatures.  The first
half of the month finished five degrees below average, but the second half of
the month finished slightly above average so the month as a whole finished 2.6
degrees below the long term average. 

The
last time the first six months of a year all finished below average was back in
1996, a year that ended up finishing in the top ten coldest years on record.  Many cool Junes in this area tend to finish
with above average rainfall and that certainly was the case this year. 

The airport finished with 6.06 inches of
rain, nearly double the average June rainfall of 3.51 inches.  Although very wet, last month did not finish
in the top 10 wettest Junes on record, 6.60 inches would have been needed to
tie for 10th place.