John Wheeler: Feb. 1, 1996, was the coldest day in Fargo in the 20th Century
There were only two days with a temperature warmer than zero for almost three weeks, including eleven consecutive days below zero.
FARGO — The cold wave from mid-January into early February 1996 remains the worst cold spell in our region since 1936. It began with a terrible blizzard Jan. 17-18. Eighteen inches of snow fell with temperatures well below zero during most of the storm. Following the blizzard, there were only two days with a temperature warmer than zero for almost three weeks, including eleven consecutive days below zero.
At the heart of the cold wave, there were six consecutive days when it was never warmer than -9 degrees and two consecutive days when it was never warmer than -21 degrees. The coldest day was Feb. 1. The morning low in Fargo-Moorhead was 39 below and the afternoon high was 28 below. These remain the coldest low temperature and the second-coldest high temperature recorded in Fargo-Moorhead since the 1800s. The memories of both the blizzard and cold wave of 1996 were somewhat overshadowed by the heavy snows and spring flood the following winter of 1996-97.