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 official recording of temperature and precipitation data started in Moorhead on January 1, 1881. It was not until April 17, that year, did the observer record a temperature at or above 50 degrees, but on this date in 1881, the high was written down as 57 degrees. Every year since that first year of record keeping the first 50 degree day occurred earlier than that date. In fact, the overall average of such an occurrence through the years is nearly a month earlier on March 18.
That record stood for 131 years, but the warmest high so far in 2013 has only been 43 degrees and with no chance of hitting 50 degrees today or any time soon, this spring will now set the future late standard for reaching that milestone. Now that we have broken the latest 50 degree high on record, the next milestone is 60 degrees.
The average first 60 degree day is April 3 and the latest on record was May 6, 1893.
Edit: It is official, no 50 degree reading yesterday, so a new record is set and continuing. Grand Forks needs to make it to midnight on April 21 to break the record there.
A year ago today, the high in Fargo Moorhead was 76 degrees. That broke the previous St. Patrick’s Day record of 73 degrees set back in 1968. The following day, March 18, 2012 the high was 78 degrees which came close to tying the all-time highest recorded temperature for the month of March of 80 degrees set on March 23, 1910.
Perhaps even more impressive was the low temperature on March 18, 2012 of 60 degrees. Not only did that break the daily high minimum record by 19 degrees, it broke the monthly record by 12 degrees. Previous to last year, the record for the warmest daily low temperature in the month of March was 48 degrees set in 1910, 1945 and in 2007.
March 18 was not the only day with a low temperature above that previous high minimum set during that phenomenally mild stretch in March 2012 as we recorded a low of 57 degrees on March 19 and 51 degrees on March 23.
From a suggestion from a comment on a previous blog posting…
The last time Hector Int’l recorded a high above freezing was back on January 27. A high of 32 degrees has occurred a few times, including this past Sunday, but a temperature above that point has been elusive.
This past month was the first February since 1979 without a single day above freezing. February 1979 was the 3rd straight February without an above freezing day. The late 1970s had a series of very cold winters, but previous to those three winters, the only other Februaries without a high of at least 33 degrees occurred in 1948, 1935 and 1921. Therefore, last month was one of just seven Februaries without a day above freezing.
An astute reader may remember that the 1880s this region recorded a series of brutally cold winters, yet, even in that decade of cold, at least one day managed to get above freezing during those Februaries. That makes last month in an exclusive non-melting club.
The good news is there has never been a March without some above freezing days, so do expect some melting in the area soon.
A few of weeks ago in this space, I mentioned that the sea-ice extent around Antarctica was near record levels, but came just short of surpasses the satellite era highest extent. That all changed as the sea ice in the southern ocean, although seemly at peak in mid September, continued to expand and ended up breaking the old record set in 2007.
At maximum extent the sea ice in the southern hemisphere maxed out at roughly 7.51 million square miles on September 25. Just as the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice minimum record that was broken this year was largely attributed to wind, especially with one powerful storm, the sea ice maximum in the southern ocean seems to have occurred because of favorable wind helping to maintain the ice pack.
Adequate satellite data to make sea-ice calculations has only been available since 1979; therefore, the term record in these instances should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Nearly 100 years ago, on July 10, 1913, a temperature reading of 134 degrees was recorded at the Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, California. At the time that was the highest temperatures recorded with proper measuring techniques anywhere on earth.
Nearly a decade later on September 13, 1911 a report of a temperature of 136 degrees was allegedly taken at El Azizia, Libya to establish a new world record that still holds to this day. That is until now. The World Meteorological Organization recently decided to drop that particular reading from the record book. There is always been some suspicion to that reading in Libya in 1922 and after much research it was determined that indeed that temperature was likely bogus.
Therefore, that temperature set nearly a century ago in Death Valley is now considered the warmest temperature recorded in the world. So if you have ever had the chance to go to Death Valley, you can now officially tell your friends that you visited the hottest place on earth.
On July 19, 2011, the sensor at the Moorhead Municipal airport was reporting a dew point of 88 degrees. Many of us in the weather community did not give much credence to the reading as that sensor gives calculated dew point temperatures three to five degrees higher than Hector Int’l no matter the time of year (and it still does, no matter what the vegetation type if any, time of day, month or season).
That day out of curiosity, I drove to the Moorhead airport, took a reading using an old fashioned sling psychrometer, which was used for years to measure relative humidity and dew point based on the cooling of a thermometer by evaporative cooling. I came up with an 83 degree reading on two tests, which was what the Fargo airport was reporting. Yet, in the end that 88 degree reading, which surprised many of us, was used as a new state record for Minnesota.
I put that record in this context; although Roger Maris’ record of 61 homers in a season has technically been broken, it was done so by questionable means. I think Roger Maris holds the true record and a humidity sensor that reads high consistently, in all seasons, perhaps should have as asterisk next to its record
Yesterday was the 13th time this month that Fargo Moorhead recorded a low temperature above freezing. That ties 2010 for the most such days in March. You may think that is a typo, as so much has been written about this month being similar to 1910, but it was just two years ago that we set that record. Although, March 2010 was no where near as warm as this month for daily high temperatures, it was a very warm month for nightly lows.
From March 7-15, 2010, the low temperature remained above freezing. Many of those days the low was either 34 or 35 degrees with a high between 37 and 40 degrees. That entire week was regularly foggy and dreary, but that continuous period with above freezing temperatures lead to a rapid snow melt and like 2009, to an early major flood.
The low this morning was 34 degrees at Hector Int’l so it appears we have now broken that record from 2010 and we are likely to see above freezing low temperatures every day this week adding to that record.