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Erik Burgess, Published March 07 2014

Warm weather on the way, with 40s expected Sunday and Monday

FARGO – It just might be time to finally dust off those shorts and retire the parka, at least for this weekend.

It could be as warm as 43 degrees in the metro on Sunday. That’s tank-top weather compared to the record cold temperatures last weekend.

The high Monday is expected to stay around 40 degrees, said WDAY meteorologist Aaron White.

“No more negatives, finally,” he said.

Fargo broke a record a week ago, when the high temperature on Saturday, March 1, was minus 8, the coldest high temperature ever recorded here in March. That temperature reading occurred just after midnight Saturday, White said. Thermometers inched a few degrees lower as the day progressed.

The previous record for Fargo’s coldest high mark in March was 7 below zero, on March 7, 1948. The official record started in 1881.

The mid-teens reached on Friday were lower than any of the highs White had in his seven-day forecast and most of the lows.

The return to freezing temps after warmer conditions Thursday caused driving problems in the region Friday, including icy conditions on Interstate 94.

The Minnesota State Patrol responded to 106 cars in the ditch in the St. Cloud area alone, said Sgt. Jesse Grabow, a patrol spokesman. There were 62 crashes in that area, 30 of which were rollovers, resulting in nine injuries.

In west-central and northwest Minnesota, there were 33 vehicles off the road and 38 crashes, 27 of which were rollovers.

Later in the day, there was even a rolled-over tanker truck near Evansville, Minn., hauling – what else? – de-icing chemicals. Nothing leaked from the tank, but a lane of eastbound I-94 was closed in the afternoon as crews worked to transfer the chemical to a new vehicle, Grabow said.

In eastern North Dakota, there were no crashes – weather-related or otherwise – to speak of through Friday afternoon, said Sgt. Luke Hendrickson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

“We lucked out. It must’ve just stayed south and east of us,” he said.

After the late weekend warm-up, the high will dip to around 28 degrees Tuesday, but temperatures should rise again into the 30s or 40s by Thursday, White said. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll stay warm all month, he said.

“(In) March, you get ups and downs all the time,” White said. “I figure there’s probably going to be some other cold snap later this month.”

But as more snow starts to melt away, that could help the mercury rise.

“When the sun hits the soils, the darker colors absorb more heat, so that can all help to warm up the surface air and can translate to warmer temperatures here in Fargo,” White said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518