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Fargo hits its hottest of year

First-grader Isabella Smith made a paper fan Thursday to get through the hottest day of the year. But she still walked out of Fargo's Hawthorne Elementary with bright, pink cheeks. Fargo hit 93 degrees Thursday after one of the coldest summers on...

Nate Connelly

First-grader Isabella Smith made a paper fan Thursday to get through the hottest day of the year.

But she still walked out of Fargo's Hawthorne Elementary with bright, pink cheeks.

Fargo hit 93 degrees Thursday after one of the coldest summers on record.

Fans, water breaks and turning off lights helped students -- and teachers -- tolerate the day.

Nancy Hagen, a Hawthorne second-grade teacher, had to raise her voice so students could hear her over the four fans running in her room.

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The classrooms were humid and hot, but students weren't complaining.

"I don't know that the kids notice it as much as the adults," Hagen said, fanning herself with a stack of papers.

Students were in school when Fargo reached this year's previous high of 91 on April 28.

Once school let out last spring, temperatures dove into the 70s. The only 90-degree day during summer vacation was on July 21, WDAY-TV meteorologist John Wheeler said.

The average high was 68.5 degrees this summer, said Dave Kellenbenz of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

The summer was the seventh-coldest on record with an average daily temperature of 64.3 degrees, Wheeler said.

The summer's cool temperatures were unusual, but Wheeler said reaching record highs for the year in April and September is not. In fact, the last time Fargo reached 93 was Sept. 7, 2003.

Thursday's hot weather caused North and South High schools, and Benjamin Franklin Junior High to switch to generators to curtail energy usage, Fargo district spokesman Lowell Wolff said.

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But all schools remained open, most of which are not air conditioned.

The last time students were released early was in August 2003 at Xcel Energy's request.

The district closes schools when Xcel requests a reduction in energy use or if the heat starts to affect students, Wolff said.

"The ones we worry about aren't one- and two-day events. It's when you get four to five (hot) days in a row," Wolff said. "Then, the older three-story buildings don't cool down at night."

Four to five days of hot weather is not in Fargo's future. Today's high should be 86, but a cool front will move in this weekend. Highs will be in the mid to upper 70s on Saturday and Sunday, and dip into the 60s next week.

The typical high for this time of year is 76, Kellenbenz said.

Thursday's hot temperatures were accompanied by more than a warm breeze. Gusts reached 44 mph, causing the National Weather Service to issue a wind advisory until 9 p.m. Thursday, Kellenbenz said.

The state also is under a fire emergency because of the hot temperatures, strong winds and low relative humidity, Wheeler said. The conditions apply more to the western part of the state -- not Fargo, he said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Dawn Peake at (701) 241-5557

Nate Connelly

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