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Erik Burgess, Published July 17 2013

Heat index could push 100 degrees today for opening of Fargo Street Fair

FARGO – The heat index today could push 100 degrees, turning the first day of the 38th Downtown Fargo Street Fair into gobs of greasy food and sweaty brows.

With highs in the mid-90s and a dew point in the 70s, the first day of this year’s three-day street fair is sure to be a hot and muggy one, said Daryl Ritchison, WDAY TV meteorologist.

But memories could be short for fairgoers who think it’s always miserably hot whenever the street fair is in session.

While the fair is typically held during the third week of July – statistically the hottest week of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – temperatures during the street fair in Fargo are usually within the normal July range of between 60 and 83 degrees, Ritchison said.

That range is based on 30 years of data from 1981 to 2010, he said.

“Most street fair years have been 70s and 80s,” Ritchison said, reflecting on his 18 years in the area.

July is the hottest month in Fargo, with a mean maximum temperature of 82.5 degrees, said Tom Grafenauer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. The mean maximum temperature is 77.9 degrees in June and 81.2 degrees in August.

Last year’s fair was a scorcher, with Fargo setting a daily record when the mercury hit 100 degrees on July 20.

But for the five years prior to 2012, not a single street fair day broke 90 degrees, weather service data going back to 2007 show. The closest was on July 16, 2011, which maxed out at 89 degrees.

In 2008 and 2009, temperatures during fair days didn’t crack 80 degrees, according to weather service data.

In 38 years, street fair organizers have never considered changing the schedule, said Mike Hahn, president/CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership.

This time of year is hot, but it’s also when street fair organizers can wrangle up the most attractions, and it’s been an “established schedule” for 38 years with those artists and vendors, Hahn said.

“They’re kind of in our area at this time of year,” he said. “To really get quality vendors, this is the ideal time.”

There will be a large misting tent near Second Avenue North and Broadway to help fairgoers cool down, said Amy Nash, sustainability coordinator for the Downtown Community Partnership.

New to the fair this year is an enclosed area with baby changing tables and a private space for breastfeeding mothers, she said. That tent, across from Sammy’s Pizza, will have “good ventilation” and fans, but no air conditioning, Hahn said.

Other than staying hydrated, Hahn offered another tip for fairgoers.

“Don’t bring your pets downtown. Leave them in a nice, cool spot. Leave them home,” he said.

Hot weather today should cool significantly by the weekend, Ritchison said.

Fargo is on the edge of a front lingering in the northern part of the valley. Fronts push moisture to their edges, he said, causing a rising heat index, which is a combination of dew point and temperature.

Friday and Saturday should cool down as the cold front moves south, Ritchison said. Expect highs in the low 80s on Friday. Temperatures could dip into the 70s for a high on Saturday, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518