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
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.