A year ago today, it was a Thursday for the record book. After recording a high of 41 degrees the previous day, which tied the record for January 4 last set back in 2001. The next day even warmer air moved into the area. With the lack of snow cover, abundant sunshine and a favorable west wind, the temperature soared into the 50s.
The official high that day at Hector Int’l was 55 degrees. Not only did that shatter the record for the day, which was previously just 40 degrees, it also surpassed the record for the warmest temperature in the month of January since records started in 1881. On January 20, 1908 the temperature reached 54 degrees locally and that high stood untouched for over 100 years before it was broken a year ago today. Another record was broken the following day when the high reached 44 degrees. Then two more records were broken on January 9 and 10 making for five record highs or ties in a week.
January 2012 finished tied as the 4th warmest on record.
Based on what the projected temperatures are today, it seems likely that this month will end up as the 2nd warmest July on record. Currently, 1916, 1989 and 1988, 1935 and 1957 are all virtually tied for that position, but they do technically rank in the order listed.
If you are surprised that this month ended up warmer than 1988 and 1989, the years many readers will remember, it was the low temperatures this month that made the difference, not the high temperatures. July 1988 and 1989 had a noticeable higher average for daily maximums, but those months also had much cooler nights than this year.
Although this July will rank as the 2nd warmest on record, it still comes far short of the record warmest July set back in 1936. In fact, this month will likely end up around 3 degrees cooler than what was recorded that year, which averaged over a full 31 days is very significant.
But that should not take away from this month as it was certainly a July many of us will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Yesterday in this space, I wrote about how frequently the high temperature has been above 80 degrees this summer. This consistency of above average temperatures has likely been very noticeable on your electric bill if you cool your house with an air conditioner. Yet, the daytime high temperatures have only been part of the reason why your electric bill has been so high this summer as the low temperatures have also played a role.
Our average low temperature is currently 60 degrees, yet most summer the low is in the 50s just as frequently as it is in the 60s. Overnight temperatures in the 50s generally allow you to open up the windows and let the cool overnight breezes naturally cool your house. This month there has only been three such nights with a low in the 50s and more importantly we have recorded five days with a low in the 70s. We only average three 70 degrees lows in an entire summer. So although this summer has been far from unprecedented, it certainly has been a change from recent years.
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.
February 29 marked the end of climatological winter and the just completed winter of 2011-2012 will go down as the warmest winter since 1881. It was a close race between the previous warmest winter of 1986-1987 and in many ways it came down to if the sky would clear and the temperature would drop in one of the final few days of the winter season. But the morning lows the last few days were mild, so in the end, this past winter bested the winter of 1986-1987 by 0.1 degree.
The average temperature these past three months was 22.1 degrees, which is 9.5 degrees above the current 30 year average. As many of you likely remember the past 4 winters all finished below average and as a reference, last year, the average winter temperature was only 8.0 degrees.
Therefore, our just completed winter was a remarkable 14 degrees warmer meaning huge energy savings for all of us in comparison to last year.
Since December 1, Fargo Moorhead has officially recorded a high above freezing 36 times. That is nearly one day out of every two. The record for the most days above freezing during the three principal months of winter is 44 such days set back during the winter of 1923-1924. With 20 more days left in climatological winter to challenge that mark, this winter is already ranked as having the 9th most days above 32 degrees since 1881.
This is all in stark contrast to the past four winters. As many of you probably remember, the past 4 winters all finished with below average temperatures. Those winters combined had a grand total of 34 days with a temperature above freezing, not quite matching what we accomplished this year in just over two months.
My strong suspicion is we will not break the record, but either way, this mild winter has certainly given us a taste of the warmer side of our climate.
January 15 marked the half-way point of climatological winter and that stretch we just finished was the warmest on record. The period from December 1 through January 15 averaged 25.3 degrees which was not only the warmest such period on record; it was the warmest by over 3 degrees.
The previous record for the first-half of winter was back in 2006-2007 with an average temperature of 21.8 degrees. The second half of that winter finished much colder, yet, that winter overall still finished above average. As many of you will recall, after that winter, the next 4 all finished with below average temperatures. The first half of the winter of 2008-2009 finished with an average temperature of just 2.8 degrees which was the 13th coldest such period and a remarkable departure from what we have recorded this year. The past month and a half was not only warm, but relatively dry.
Since December 1 Fargo Moorhead has officially recorded 0.53 inches of rain and melted snow which was the driest start of winter in 10 years.