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Dave Olson, Published March 25 2013

Fargo looks to defend national title in ‘Toughest Weather City’ Sweet 16

FARGO – Blizzards, floods, winter temperatures that would feel right at home in the Ice Age.

These climatological factors may not look good on a city’s resume, but they’re worth their weight in hailstones when competing for the Weather Channel’s “Toughest Weather City” crown.

Fargo, the tournament’s defending champion, will bank on its dubious reputation today when it goes headwind to headwind against Marquette, Mich., in the contest’s third round – also called the Sweet 16 – which Fargo advanced to late last week by defeating Detroit in the Weather Channel’s online voting at www.weather.com.

The 64 cities in the tournament – the Weather Channel’s answer to the NCAA basketball’s March Madness – collected more than 200,000 votes during its first four days this year.

Fargo bested both its first-round challenger, Dodge City, Kan., and its second-round opponent, Detroit, by an average of 66 percentage points.

The winner of today’s Midwest Region match between Fargo and Marquette will square off Thursday in Elite Eight competition against the winner of today’s other battle in the Midwest Region, which pits International Falls, Minn., against Green Bay, Wis.

Elite Eight competition will conclude Friday with matches between cities in the South and West Regions of the country.

Final Four and National Championship voting will occur next week, with a champion to be announced April 5.

Here’s how the Weather Channel summed up the strengths of competitors remaining in the Midwest Region of this year’s tournament:

•Fargo: bitter cold, windy, spring flood risk; 43 days of subzero cold; 13 days of 90+ heat.

•Marquette: windy, cold; 204 inches of snow; last snow of season, April 29; three to four days of 90+ heat.

•International Falls: known as the “nation’s icebox;” 58 days of subzero cold; 71.6 inches of snow; 3 days of 90+ heat.

•Green Bay: known as the “frozen tundra;” 19 days of subzero cold; 53.9 inches of snow; six days of 90+ heat.

In 2011, Fargo defeated Marquette and International Falls on its way to winning the Toughest Weather City title by defeating Bradford, Pa., in the final.

The tournament apparently cooled its heels in 2012, as no online record for it could be found. A message left with the Weather Channel on Monday seeking information about the tournament was not returned before this story went to print.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555