A welcome reprieve from winter weather, temperatures in the Grand Forks area have been holding steady around the 50s for several weeks now. The change may have seemed sudden, rising from just above freezing to almost 60 degrees in one week of March.
However, according to the atmospheric science department at UND, as well as other climate data, this isn’t really anything new. In fact, it’s pretty much average according to historic climate data.
“It’s been more of a gradual change,” atmospheric science major Kaela Lucke. Lucke, a junior, has previously reported weather for the former Studio One television network.
According to Lucke, the primary cause for the increase of warmer weather is the longer days and the albedo of the soil. Darker soil, when exposed, absorbs more heat, leading to more warmth. Also helping is a ridge of high-pressure air over the northern Great Plains, which has kept the area free of rain and cold.
High pressure ridges can last for weeks or even months, Lucke said.
Another cause for the weather was the early loss of snow, said Dr. Aaron Kennedy from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. February, for example, was a warmer month than usual, and fall was warm as well. For the entire planet, 2016 was the hottest year on record.
Residents of Grand Forks, though, aren’t complaining.
“I like the warm weather,” Lucke admitted, “I can ride my bike (again).”
Between 1893 and 2010, the average temperature for Grand Forks for April was roughly 54 degrees Farenheit. The record high was 98 degrees in 1980, while the record low was -5 degrees in 1936. For precipitation, April usually receives roughly an inch on average, although the type may vary.
“Could be rain, could be snow,” Dr. Kennedy said. “You never know.”
Severe weather generally begins late in May.
Connor Johnson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]