The high temperature on Sunday, March 21, was officially 53 degrees in Fargo Moorhead. That was the first 50 degree day of the year and very close to the long-term average of March 18 for such an occurrence. Looking back through the record book, the first day with a high of 50 or higher tends to occur at the same time the snow cover disappears from the area.
Once the landscape turns from white to brown and black, much more of the Sun’s energy is absorbed translating into warmer temperatures. Of all the first 50s since 1881, the highest snow depth has been 6 inches and that occurred in both 1907 and 1997. There has been an occasional year with three or four inches on the ground, but since 1881, 92 percent of the time the first 50 occurred with 1 inch or less snow depth being measured. On Sunday our official snow depth was zero which fit that long-term pattern.