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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published January 23 2013

Weather Talk: Monday 1st day since 2011 with high temp below zero

Monday was the first day since Feb. 25, 2011, during which the highest temperature recorded all day was below zero. Over the past 50 years, Fargo-Moorhead has had an average of 10 days a year with a high temperature below zero.

One contributing factor to the lack of subzero days has been the scant snow cover. Deep snow makes our weather colder in three important ways: Snow insulates the air from the warmer temperatures in the winter soil; snow reflects sunlight back into space; and at night, snow cover increases the amount of terrestrial radiation going out into space.

All three of these effects are increased when snow cover is deep. Looking back over the years, most of our extremely cold winters have also had ample snow whereas most of our milder winters have also had a relative absence of extreme cold. The cold weather we have been experiencing this week would have been about 10 degrees colder had we had a fresh, deep layer of fluffy snow covering the ground.


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