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Cali Owings, Published February 17 2014

Fargo-Moorhead area gets brief break from 'trying' winter

FARGO – To the casual observer, this winter may seem colder than usual. While it isn’t one for the record books, area meteorologists say the cold’s persistence could certainly make this winter seem unrelenting.

With a predicted three-day stretch of temperatures above freezing for the first time since November, the Fargo-Moorhead area will get a brief reprieve through Wednesday from the long stretches of cold that have characterized this winter.

“It’s been a very trying winter that way because we haven’t gotten any breaks at all,” said WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler.

The average lowest temperature for Fargo over the past three decades is 28 degrees below zero, Wheeler said. The coldest temperature reported this winter is only 25 degrees below.

While there was an eight-day stretch of above-average temperatures in early January, it was only above freezing once in the past 30 days and rarely above average.

“It’s just been consistently pretty cold. That’s been wearing on everybody,” Wheeler said.

This brief warm-up also comes after a colder-than-average start to February, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Makowski.

“It’s definitely colder than normal, especially since we’ve had relatively long stretches of these colder temperatures,” he said.

With a day off from school and rare temperatures above freezing, AJ Dauphinais, 16, and Miles Borah, 15, set to clearing the Dike West skate park in Fargo on Monday morning.

Dauphinais, Borah, both of Fargo, and another friend arrived around 9:30 and shoveled for about an hour and a half to clear the concrete skating area. It’s not unusual for generous skaters to shovel the park so that everyone can take advantage of the brief periods of good skating weather.

“You just want to skate so you just have to do whatever to help you get to skate,” Dauphinais said.

If forecasts hold, they’ll be able to enjoy the results of their labor at the park through Wednesday before a return to cold this weekend.

So far this winter, the Fargo area has been “stuck” in the same weather pattern of consistent cold air masses with few short breaks, Makowski said.

He said there’s been relatively little change in the weather pattern this winter.

“The theme this winter … a lot of cold air dropping south, brief warm-ups in between and dominated by cold overall,” he said.

While warm weather has been “a long time coming,” Wheeler said it also poses some risks.

There’s not much cause for spring flooding concern based on current precipitation levels, Wheeler said. But all of the snow melting during the daytime will re-freeze overnight, making sidewalks, parking lots and roadways slippery.

He said residents should take advantage of the warmer weather to clear up snow and ice.

“Winter is not over yet. We have a long way to go,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599