Temperatures in the 50s this time of year have been rare in recent decades. Since 1881 on only 13 occasions has the temperature reached 50 degrees or higher in Fargo Moorhead in January. Plus, most of those occurrences were between the years of 1900 to 1944. January 1944 recorded two 50 degree high temperature days and since then Fargo Moorhead reached that milestone only two additional times.
One on January 24, 1981 and the other occurred ten years ago on January 25, 2002. January 1900 recorded a record four days with a high in the 50s, with January 1942 recording three. Those two months account for one-half of all such days. Although, January 1908 recorded only one 50 degree day on January 20, it was the warmest January day on record with a high of 54 degrees.
That record stood unmatched until last Thursday when Fargo Moorhead officially reached 55 degrees, for not only the 14th recorded 50 degree in January, but also the warmest on record for the month.
The first 5 months of 2011 all finished with below average temperatures. Those five months averaged 4 degrees below the current 30 year average. But starting in June, Fargo Moorhead has recorded 7 consecutive months with above average temperatures. These past months have been so mild that the 2nd half of this year will likely finish as the warmest such period on record.
Since July 1, the average temperature in Fargo has been 51.8 degrees through Wednesday, which is 6 degrees above average. The current record holder for the last 6 months of the year was back in 1939 with an average temperature of 51.0 degrees. Two other years not far off the record are 2001, and 2006 both with averages over 50 degrees for that period.
Many of you may remember that 2006 was the last year with a brown Christmas in Fargo before this year. So if you thought these past few months have been mild, it was not your imagination, as it has been record breaking.
Tuesday evening, the automatic sensor at the Moorhead Airport reported a dew point temperature of 88 degrees. This was prematurely reported by a number of local and national media as a new state record.
It was premature because the quality of the reading must be evaluated before it can be proclaimed a record, and it appears that the reading had a few problems. We went out to the site on Wednesday and found the sensor surrounded by moisture-producing corn, sugar beets, and very tall clover without a buffer as is required. Also, the field had standing water all around which doubtlessly added greatly to the humidity and would not be considered representative of the surrounding countryside as a whole.
Finally, the sensor at Fargo’s Hector Airport was simultaneously registering a dew point of 83 which, although very high, was five degrees lower than the Moorhead reading. Just like when track and field records do not count if they are wind aided, this dew point record will also fail to qualify as a record.
A couple of links you may want to read:
Hottest Place on Earth?
Unreliable Dew Points
It was 75 years ago this week that the most intense and brutal heat wave on record occurred in Fargo Moorhead. For 15 straight days, from July 4-18, 1936, the high temperature exceeded 90 degrees. On nine of those days the temperature was over 100 degrees, with eight of those occurring in a row.
Included in that streak was the highest temperature recorded in Fargo Moorhead, a 114 degree reading on July 6. The high temperature missed being 100 degrees or above on 11 consecutive days only because after eight straight 100 degree days, the high hit 99 twice, before exceeding 100 once again. No other heat wave comes close to matching what occurred in this area in July 1936. The second longest streak with temperatures above 90 degrees is 9, set back in August, 1976.
The year 1936 recorded both the most intense heat wave and cold snap on record, with both events being significantly more brutal than anything else on record.
I have often wondered on the media would treat such a year in today’s society…. I probably do not want to know.
February 10, 2011 is likely a day that will not be soon forgotten for residents in the state of Oklahoma. That morning at 7:40 AM the temperature dropped to -31 degrees in Nowata, located in the northeastern part of Oklahoma. That -31 degree temperature is the coldest temperature measured in the Sooner State.
Previously, the state record in Oklahoma was a -27 degree low that was recorded in Vinita on February 13, 1905 and in Watts on January 18, 1930. So not only did Nowata break the record, it broke it soundly. To put that temperature in perspective, if a location in North Dakota or Minnesota broke the state record by four degrees, the temperature would have to reach -64 degrees.
That cold air from last week has been replaced with a much different air mass the past few days with temperatures climbing to near 70 degrees, an amazing jump of over 100 degrees in one week.
Among the storm reports from the severe weather last week was some incredibly large hail that fell in portions of south central North Dakota. The hardest hit area was in Sioux County where golfball to softball sized hail was observed. At the Prairie Knights Resort a few hailstones were measured to be 5 inches in diameter which tied the record for the largest hailstone observed in North Dakota. The last time such a large chunk of hail was seen in North Dakota was on August 3, 1969 in Mercer County.
Those hailstones were large enough to smash and go through windshields and even puncture and completely go through some roofs. Needless to say, damage was significant to buildings, vehicles and to area crops. Plus, if that was not enough, that same area was also hit by wind gusts estimated to be near 70 mph damaging additional structures and crops that were missed by the hail.
There is some climate information that has only been available in great detail since the advent of satellites in the 1960s. Sea ice extend would be one example, with good information only available since 1979. Snow cover over the globe would be yet another example with a reliable database only going back to 1966. In those 44 years of records, December 2009 ranked as having the second highest aerial extent of snow cover over the Northern Hemisphere. Last month recorded peak snow coverage of nearly 46 million square kilometers (18 million square miles) with an average of 43 million square kilometers (17 million square miles) for the entire month.
Taken alone, North America set a record average December extent with nearly 16 million square kilometers (6 million square miles) of the continent covered by snow. To give some perspective to the abundance of snow cover, on several occasions, nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states were snow covered last month.
KFAR hit -33° briefly this morning breaking the old record of -32° set in 1885. KJKJ (Moorhead Municipal) dropped to -29°.
The cool and damp conditions in October produced a lot of cloudy days. By my own count we had only 8 days with a sky clear enough to be called Partly Cloudy and no days in Fargo Moorhead where it was completely sunny from sunrise to sunset. The other 23 days were cloudy, although on some of those days we did at least see some brief peaks of sunshine.
Also, on 22 days last month at least a trace of either rain or snow was reported and on 17 of those days, measurable precipitation (0.01 inches or more) was reported. That mark of 17 days with measurable precipitation is an October record. The previous maximum was 14 days with measurable precipitation in both October of 1997 and 1982.
It was in 1982 that the October rain record was set when 7.03 inches fell in comparison to the 5.44 inches that was recorded this year.