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Weather Talk: Cold weather is coming a little less frequently

Since Fargo-Moorhead weather recordings began in 1881, the average lowest temperature of the winter season is 28 below. The coldest temperature on record is 48 below set Jan. 8, 1887.

The average number of calendar days in a cold weather season in which the temperature falls to at least 20 below is seven.

On occasion, a winter goes by without reaching 20 below. In the winter of 2001-02, the coldest temperature was 10 below, which is the mildest lowest temperature of any winter on record.

Last winter, the lowest temperature was 22 below. The previous winter only got as cold as 19 below.

The last winter with a temperature that reached the 28-below average was the winter of 2009-10 when it was 33 below on Jan. 2.

With our winter warming trend in recent decades, the frequency of those really cold days has been decreasing. Very cold weather still happens, but a little less frequently.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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