December NCDC Stats

You may recall that December 2013 ranked as the 11th coldest on record in Fargo Moorhead with an average temperature of 4.0 degrees.  Taken as a whole, the state of North Dakota recorded the 9th coldest December on record with a state wide average temperature of 4.5 degrees which is 8.4 degrees below average.

Minnesota recorded the 8th coldest December on record with an average temperature of 5.8 degrees which was 8.2 degrees below average.  The temperature deficits last month was very consistent across both states.  Not only was it a cold month for both states, it was also wet.  Minnesota recorded the 20th wettest December on record and North Dakota came in as the 8th wettest.

Because January is historically so much colder than December our ranking this month will be higher, yet, we will still finish another month well below average.

Temperature Rangeless

The just completed 2013 was our second straight year with a minimal temperature range. The warmest temperature last year was a 96 degree high on August 20 and the coldest temperature was a -21 degree low on February 1 and December 23.  That makes for a yearly range of 117 degrees.

Although that may sound impressive, in our climate, that ranks as tied for the 5th lowest yearly temperature range on record.  The average spread from our warmest to lowest temperature in a year is 127 degrees.    2013 marked the second year in a row with a range of only 117 degrees.  The smallest range in temperature in any year was set back in 2002 when the range was only 110 degrees with the warmest temperature being 98 degrees and the coldest a mere -12 degrees that year.

The year with the highest range in temperatures to no surprise for many of you was set in 1936 when the lowest and highest temperatures were -37 degrees and 114 degrees for a range of 151 degrees.

Worst of 2013

If you had to select the most notable weather feature of 2013 in our area what would you pick?  My hunch is many of you would choose the lack of spring weather we recorded this year.  Granted, it was not necessarily an individual weather event, but the persistent cold and snow last March and April was one for the record book.

Those two months in total recorded 31.3 inches of snow, the second most on record.  Both months recorded similar snow totals, but because April climatologically is not a snowy month, the 16.7 inches that fell was the 4th highest on record and less than one inch from breaking the record for that month.  Perhaps more impressive than the snow, was the cold. March and April combined was the 3rd coldest such period on record in Fargo Moorhead and taken as a whole, those two months were the coldest on record for the state of North Dakota.

The cold spring lead to many lakes in Minnesota not opening up until after the Fishing Opener in early May.

15 days

The average temperature during the first 15 days of this month was 3.6 degrees. That was the coldest start to December since 2000.  It also was the 10th coldest such stretch since temperature records start in 1881.

The first half of December 2000 had an average temperature of 2.9 degrees and finished with an overall average temperature of -0.2 degrees which is currently ranked as the 3rd coldest December on record.  One remarkable element to that frigid December 2000 is that although ranked as 3rd coldest on record, not a single record low was set that month.  Another cold December that some of you may recall occurred back in 1983.  The average temperature that month was -0.3 degrees which was the 2nd coldest December on record.

Much of the cold that year arrived in the second half of the month as the first 15 days averaged 8 degrees above zero which was followed by one of the most brutal December cold snaps on record to finish the month

November 2013

The average temperature last month was 28.2 degrees which is 0.6 degrees below the current 30 year average.  Although not an exceptionally cold month, it was the coldest November in Fargo Moorhead since 2003.  Fargo Moorhead had recorded 9 straight above average Novembers until this year.  Not only temperatures finished below average last month, but precipitation did as well.

In total, only 0.40 inches of rain and melted snow was recorded in November.  That is well below the average of 1.00 inch.  Our cooperative observer in north Moorhead measured 0.3 inches of snow last month.  The average November snowfall is 7.9 inches.  That ranked November 2013 as the 9th least snowiest November since 1890.

In recent years 2006 with just 0.2 inches and 1999 with no measureable snow ranked lower.

October 2013

Last month was the first month since April with the average temperature finishing below normal.  October finished with an average temperature of 44.8 which is 0.8 degrees below the current 30 year average.  The month started off mild, with the first 10 days finishing well above average, but the rest of the month nearly every day was below normal.  

It was not only a cool month, but a wet one as well.  In total, 4.18 inches of rain was recorded at Hector Int’l in October making last month the 8th wettest such month on record.  Most of that rain fell from two separate systems, one that dropped about 1.5 inches from October 4-6, and the other that brought nearly 2 inches on rain on October 14 and 15.  When you combined the 4.39 inches of rain that fell in September, 8.57 inches of rain has been recorded since September 1 making the past two months the 4th wettest such period since records began in 1881.

August 2013

The first half of August ranked as the 9th coldest such period on record.  Then an abrupt pattern change occurred bringing much warmer air into the area.  So much so, that the second half of the month was the 4th warmest such period on record.  As a whole, August finished with an average temperature of 70.9 degrees which is 1.6 degrees above average. 

Although the area experienced wide ranging temperatures last month, precipitation was scarce all 31 days.  In total, Hector Int’l recorded just 0.39 inches of rain last month making it the 4th driest August since records began in 1881.  It was also the first time since the years 1929 and 1930 that Fargo Moorhead recorded to consecutive Augusts with less than one inch of rain.  West and southwest of Fargo, some locations were even drier. 

The NDAWN (North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network) site located 4 miles SW of Edgeley, ND reported only 0.01 inches of rain in August and only 0.24 inches in the past two months. 

Summer 2013

The summer of 2013 finished with an average temperature of 70.1 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees above the current 30 year average.  All three summer months finish slightly above average.  As a comparison, the summer of 2012 had an average high of 71.8 degrees and the summer of 2011 the average was 70.7 degrees. 

Total rainfall this past summer was 9.02 inches which is very close to the average of 9.25 inches.  Although technically the summer rainfall was near the average, 3.96 inches of that fell in one event in June, plus the airport recorded much more than some other parts of the metro.  Had that event missed the airport, the summer of 2013 would have ranked as one of the driest on record.  In fact, July and August combined was the 5th driest such period on record with only 1.39 inches being recorded at the airport. 

Therefore, for much of the area, it was the second straight warmer and drier summer pushing the area back into drought status once again. 

March 2013

The average temperature last month was 17.3 degrees.  That was 10.5 degrees below average and 24.3 degrees colder than the record setting March of 2012.  This past month tied March 1923, and March 1996, for the 14th coldest March since records began in 1881.  It should be noted that there are 40 Marches on record with an average temperature between 15 and 20 degrees, so although last month the ranking was fairly low, a couple of nights that may have been cloudy instead of clear would have altered the ranking significantly. I point this out because although the average temperature in March is 27.8 degrees, only 43 of the 133 Marches on record have recorded an above average temperature.

When a March happens to lack snow cover, they tend to be exceptionally warm and skew the average upwards, yet as noted, approximately one out of three Marches have recorded temperatures very similar to what occurred this year.  The coldest March on record was in 1899 with an average temperature of just 11.1 degrees

January 2013

In a climate where the averages tend to be near the middle of large extremes, overall, January 2013, actually finished reasonably close to the long term averages for both temperature and precipitation. The average temperature last month was 10.8 degrees which is 1.5 degrees above average.

Precipitation last month was also slightly above the average.  The rain and melted snow in January totaled 0.97 inches with the average being 0.70 inches.  Snowfall last month was 9.1 inches which is slightly below the current average of 11.2 inches.  Most of that precipitation came on January 28.  Fargo Moorhead happened to be near the edge of the band of snow that developed that day.  Had that storm tracked about 30 miles farther southeast, we would have had well below average snow and precipitation for the month.

Therefore, although January precipitation finished near normal locally, many locations nearby finished either well below or well above average.  That means Fargo Moorhead happened to be in the middle of those large extremes this area often records.