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Dave Roepke, Published August 03 2009

July was cold, but not record cold

As a biking nut living up north, summer means a lot to Tom Smith. So July was a disappointment.

Though it wasn’t historically chilly by the National Weather Service’s reckoning, the month that just ended was tough on heat-lovers like Smith, owner of Island Park Cycles in Fargo.

“To me, it’s the summer that wasn’t so far,” he said.

Smith’s feeling isn’t off. July passed by without a thermometer hitting 90 degrees in Fargo, and less than half of the month’s daily highs cracked 80.

But Jim Kaiser, a meteorologist with the weather service, said July’s average temperature of 66.5, which is the mean of daily highs and lows, is still well short of the all-time coldest July in Fargo. That was set at 63.4 degrees in 1891, just 10 years after the first records the weather service has for Fargo.

It doesn’t even count as a top 10 coldest July. The 10th-chilliest July was the 66.1 degrees of 1927, Kaiser said. But 2009 was more 4.1 degrees colder than the expected normal of 70.6.

“It’s not completely rare,” Kaiser said of the lack of July warmth. “It’s kind of in that gray area.”

It hasn’t taken a bite out of the bike rides Smith’s shop organizes five times a week during the summer. Though, he said, it has cut down on casual browsing.

The cold was not a new phenomenon in July. Kaiser said every month has below-normal temperatures dating back to November.

That’s been stalling the produce at West Fargo’s FM Farmers Market, said owner Trina Kalm. July’s rainfall of 1.7 inches less than usual just piled on to slow growth. There’s still no sweet corn, making it about two weeks behind, and tomatoes and cucumbers are struggling, too.

“We have a really good-looking crop. We just need some heat to finish it,” Kalm said.

The unexpected sweater weather has been caused by many factors, Kaiser said. The jet stream, for one, is locked into bringing cold air from Canada, blocking the southwestern heat that usually provides our summer sweat.

Models suggest that the pattern may be about to break, but models have suggested this for a while, Kaiser said. Meteorologists expected things to change in July, bringing a more usual dose of heat.

“Most of us are optimistic we’ll get some summer here,” Kaiser said.

If the pattern does hold, Smith hopes the temperatures can hold steady well past summer.

“If we’re still sporting 50s in November, I’ll forgive Mother Nature,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535