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Published February 10 2014

Forum editorial: Weather is about perception

If the forecast for the rest of this week is right (TV meteorologists have been pretty much on the mark this winter), then the Red River Valley region is in for a brief respite from a very long spell of very cold weather. Yes, very cold, no matter what weather history tells us about cold spells of the past.

When it comes to the effects of weather, perception is everything. If we believe it’s been one of the coldest winters ever, even if the records say it’s not been, perception wins over science. That’s a given. So when meteorologists mine weather history and find the winter of 1887 was far colder than the winter of 2014, no one cares. 1887? Oh, please. No one even remembers …

Perception aside for the moment, the current winter has surpassed the average number of days with below-zero temperature readings. The average is 48 days; the region counted 50 days sometime last week, and winter will be with us for a couple of months. More sub-zero cold is almost a guarantee. By the measure of sub-zero days, it’s been a long, cold winter.

Snow? Not much as averages go. But what snow has fallen has not melted. That means the region’s unbroken snow cover, which often melts down a little in most winters, has served to keep temperatures colder than when some ground is exposed.

Wind? Long-time residents of the flatlands are so inured to windy conditions that a relatively windless day (like Monday) is worthy of coffee counter comment. “Cold, but really a nice day. No wind, you know.”

By the way, the wind will crank up today as it brings in daytime highs in the mid-20-degree range. The forecast for Wednesday is less wind and 25 degrees above zero. We’re talkin’ positively balmy.


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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.