Range Record

Today is the 123rd anniversary of the coldest temperature ever recorded in Fargo Moorhead. On the morning of January 8, 1887, the low temperature plummeted to -48°, a temperature that has never been reached since. In fact, no temperature of      -40° or lower has been observed in Fargo Moorhead since 1888. But that frigid day in January 1887 is notable for more than just having the lowest temperature on record.

You see, on January 8, 1900, the high temperature reached 50° which still stands as the record high temperature for that date. Therefore, the temperature difference between the record high and record low for January 8 is 98°, the largest spread of any day of the year. There are three days, January 20, February 25 and March 23 that have daily record ranges of 96° for second place.

The day with the smallest difference between records is July 23 with a range of 52°.


3 Responses

  1. Henry

    Daryl, wasn’t the measuring method different in the old days which caused lower recorded temps? Something about the thermometer not being covered by a shelter and radiating heat away?

  2. Robert V Sobczak

    That’s amazing. It would be interesting to reenact on a weather map how that anomaly unfolded. I wonder too if having such a wide swing set the stage for extra freeze damage. I’ve read about something similar happening on Florida freezes follow the warm.

  3. Daryl Ritchison


    Many thermometers were indeed uncovered leading to temperatures being measured too low before standardization in 1891. So there are many questions to the accuracy of some of the 1880s temperatures in Fargo Moorhead. I have always personally thought that morning with modern instrumentation would be closer to -40, which is still horribly cold of course.

    Robert, that would indeed be interesting. Not quite talented enough to make such a graphic myself. 🙁

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