Leap day. It’s what we call Feb. 29; the day added onto February every fourth year to keep the seasons from slowly drifting through time due to Earth taking slightly longer than 365 days to revolve around the sun.
September 2013 finished well above average, but since then the temperature in this area has been consistently cold. Since Oct. 1, about 75 percent of the lower 48 states have recorded temperatures below average.
It has been a very cold winter, yet we have never really come close to setting any daily record lows. February will be ending quite cold, but the chance of Fargo-Moorhead recording a record low this week does not look likely.
We often get a little laugh when Southerners shut down for an inch of snow, but the weather across much of the South this past week has been serious. From Georgia to the Carolinas, freezing rain accumulated to more than an inch in many areas, causing whole trees to topple. Not only were roads incredibly icy, but they were covered with trees and power lines.
Several years ago, I remember listening to my son’s pediatrician explain how the average height of boy at a certain age might be a certain number, but most boys at that age are either taller or shorter than average.
When I was a kid growing up in southern Minnesota, temperatures in the minus 10s impressed me. In December of 1983, when I was home for Christmas while attending college, the temperature dropped to minus 30 on our home thermometer. From that point forward, temperatures in the minus 10s never impressed me again.
This past Wednesday, the low at the Grand Forks Airport was minus 17 degrees. Later in the day, a strong surge of mild Pacific air moved across the Red River Valley, which pushed the temperature to 39 degrees during the early evening hours. That 39-degree high was a record for the date.
Although this December has been remarkably colder than average, during most winters our coldest weather comes in January and February. The first two months of the year are the time of big high-pressure areas from the Arctic.
Although our December weather has been terribly cold, there is one typical element of winter weather we have not had to deal with so far: freezing rain. And we can thank the cold weather for its absence.
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