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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published January 20 2014

Weather Talk: Coldest time of the year doesn’t match solar winter

Right about now, during the middle of January, is when the average temperature is the lowest of the year for our region. Here in Fargo-Moorhead, the average low is 1 below zero, and the average high is 18 degrees.

For the remainder of the winter, the average temperature will slowly rise. Of course, in any year, the coldest weather may actually happen at any time, but it is most likely to happen in January.

This coldest time of the year does not match up at all with the solar winter. The nadir of the solar year is at the winter solstice, which was a month ago. Many people refer to the winter solstice as the “first day of winter,” which fails to match up well with anything either.

About 30 years ago, in an almost-forgotten paper, well-known climatologist Dr. Kenneth Trenberth suggested the following for seasons: winter from Dec. 8 through March 9, spring from March 9 through June 8, summer from June 8 through Sept. 8, and fall from Sept. 8 through Dec. 8. Makes sense to me.

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