The temperature sensor at the official gauge for Fargo Moorhead at Hector Airport malfunctioned late last week, indicating a temperature of 50 degrees late Thursday night. The temperature was actually 35 degrees at the time.
Temperatures in the 50s in Fargo Moorhead during January are rare, obviously, but not entirely unknown. Ten of the 31 days in January sport a record high temperature in the 50s, so it does happen occasionally. The years 2012, 2002, 1981, 1942, 1931, 1908, and 1900 all have at least one daily record in the 50s. The warmest January day on record is the 55 degree temperature from January 5, 2012. There are two other record highs in the 50s from 2012 January 9 and 10. That was a ridiculously mild January.
Every time it has been to 50 degrees during January, there has been little or no snow on the ground.
Meteorologist John Wheeler