According to The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), this past spring (March through May) was the 4th coldest on record for the state of North Dakota and it was the 3rd coldest for Minnesota. So yes, it was indeed a very miserable spring in much of the upper Midwest.
You may recalled that this past spring locally in Fargo Moorhead ranked as the 10th coldest on record, but it should be noted that our records go back to 1881, whereas, NCDC’s database for statistics only goes back to 1895. If data from 1895 and after was used then this past spring would have ranked as the 7th coldest on record locally. Not only was it a cold spring, but a wet one as well.
Spring 2013 was the 5th wettest on record in North Dakota and Minnesota recorded the 8th wettest.
In my last blog posting, I mentioned that the last 100 degree temperature recorded in the month of June in Fargo Moorhead was back on June 17, 1995. That 100 degree day was part of an eight day stretch with temperatures at or above 90 degrees. From June 14-21, 1995, the high temperature varied from 90 to 100 degrees, with most of those days reaching the middle 90s.
Plus, on six of those days, the low temperature never dropped below 70 degrees meaning few cooling opportunities for those without air conditioning. Since records began in 1881, there were only two other stretches with more consecutive 90 degree days. One of those was from a stretch of nine days from August 18-26, 1976 and the other was the infamous heat wave of 15 such days from July 4-18, 1936. That stretch included a triple digit high temperature on nine of those days.
If you have one of our StormTRACKER Weather calendars you may have noticed that there are very few triple digit records in the month of June. Since records began in 1881, the official high temperature in Fargo Moorhead has reached 100 degrees or higher only nine times in the month of June. The last 100 degree high this month was on June 17, 1995. That particular 100 degree day was the first one in June since 1933. Therefore, of those nine 100 degree days recorded in June, eight of them occurred 80 or more years ago. Plus, more than one-half of the June 100 degree days occurred in just two years. June 1933 recorded four 100 degree days and June 1931 recorded two. Therefore, of the 132 previous Junes in the record book, in only six of them did the high temperature reach 100 degrees or higher, making high heat this time of year quite rare.
This June has definitely started cool, but no where near as cold as what we experience in June 2009. From June 5 through June 9 that year, the high temperature never got out of the 50s. It was the only time since records began in 1881 that Fargo Moorhead recorded 5 straight days with a high below 60 degrees during the month of June.
Although, not consecutively, there were two other Junes with five total days with a high below 60 degrees in 1915 and in 1897. One of those days during that cold stretch four years ago, June 6, 2009, the high only reached 53 degrees and that was tied for the coldest June high temperature since 1969. The summer of 2009 remained cool and ranks as the 17th coldest on record.
June 1998, on the other hand, recorded three days with high temperature in the 50s, but that summer finished with above average temperatures meaning that a cool start to a summer does not necessarily mean that the rest of the season will follow that trend.
June 1 marked the first day of meteorological summer. The just completed spring season was a testament on how our climate varies from year to year. You may recall that the spring of 2012 was the warmest on record with an average temperature of 50.2 degrees which was nearly 1 degree warmer than the previous warmest spring on record set in 1977.
Preliminary numbers for the spring of 2013 season suggest an average temperature of 36.3 degrees which would rank our just completed spring as the 10th coldest on record. That was just barely warmer than the spring of 1996, the most recent year with similar spring weather. That year the average spring temperature was 36.2 degrees.
Because the recent heavy rain event hit the north metro and the official sensor at the airport especially hard, the period from March 1 to May 31 will end up ranking as the 2nd wettest spring since records started in 1881.
Our just completed snow season was one of the longest on record. The first measurable snow fell on October 4 in Fargo Moorhead and the last measurable snow locally occurred on April 24 for a total of 203 days between accumulating snow events.
Regionally, that October 4 event dropped over 12 inches of snow into far northwestern Minnesota and then on May 1-3, parts of southern Minnesota recorded over 12 inches of snow. That is the longest period between one foot snow events I could find during any snow season within the state of Minnesota.
Another area that has experienced an exceptionally long snow season has been Anchorage, Alaska. On May 18, the Anchorage airport recorded 0.1 inch of snow, with some parts of the city recording nearly 6 inches from the event that started the day before. Anchorage recorded their first measurable snow back on September 29, meaning there was a period of 233 days between snow events, the longest such period on record for the city.
The National Climatic Data Center released their climate statistics for the month of April this past week. Although Fargo Moorhead recorded the 5th coldest April on record, taken as a whole, April 2013 ranked as the coldest on record for the state of North Dakota. Minnesota was ranked as having the 3rd coldest April on record with South Dakota recording the 2nd coldest. When a region known for having a cold dominated climate breaks or come near to breaking a record for cold temperatures that adds emphasis to how cold this region was last month.
Statewide, North Dakota had an average temperature of 31.0 degrees last month, 0.1 degree colder than 1907 which now ranks as the second coldest April on record. In Minnesota, the average temperature was 33.9 degrees. The coldest April on record in Minnesota occurred in 1950 with an average temperature of 33.5 degrees. That was also a year when many of the area lakes where still ice covered well into May, just like this year.
The low temperature on Sunday was 24 degrees at Hector Int’l. On Monday, the sensor at the airport recorded a maximum temperature of 93 degrees. That is a difference of 69 degrees in approximately 36 hours. That is tied for the 5th highest difference over a two day period since records started in 1881.
The record occurred in May, 1926. On May 3, 1926 the low was 18 degrees. The following day on May 4, the high temperature was 93 degrees for a difference of 75 degrees over the two days. Other notable two day differences occurred on January 6/7, 1924 from -35 degrees to +36 degrees and from April 14/15, 1926 as the temperature changed from a low of 14 degrees to a high of 85 degrees, both 71 degree differences.
It should be noted that modern electronic thermometers detect sudden rises and falls of temperature more efficiently then the old mercury or alcohol thermometers used in the past; yet, the difference from Sunday morning to Monday afternoon was striking.
We live in a climate where you probably never should say never, but the odds are extremely low that this area will record any more snowfall this season. So unless something unforeseen occurs, our current spring (March through May) will end up ranking as the 2nd snowiest on record. In total, 31.3 inches of snow was measured by our official observer in north Moorhead since March 1.
Only one spring, 1997, was more snow recorded when 33.6 inches was measured. Our spring snow total of 31.3 inches was nearly one-half of the total snow recorded this cold season. This past winter, 68.4 inches of snow fell in Fargo Moorhead which will rank as the 11th snowiest on record.
Other recent springs with abundant snow include, 2009 with 28.3 inches (4th highest) and 2008 when 28.1 inches fell (5th highest). Therefore, three out of the five snowiest springs on record have all occurred in the past five years.
Last month finished as the 5th coldest April on record. Not only did we finish in the Top 5 for cold temperatures, but also for snowfall. The official observer in north Moorhead measured 16.7 inches of snow last month which ranked as the 4th snowiest April on record. A couple of days ago in a previous blog I mentioned that although April ranked as the 5th coldest on record, we came within 1 degree of breaking the monthly record.
It was also a similar scenario for snowfall last month.The 16.7 inches that was measured barely missed the April snow record of 17.4 inches set in 1904. The other two years with a higher snow totals in the month of April were in 2008 with 16.9 inches and 16.8 inches recorded in 1937. In total, 2.11 inches of liquid equivalency of recorded last month.
It was a rare April in the sense that almost all of that moisture came from snowfall as only 0.05 inches of rain was recorded with 2.06 inches coming from melted snow.