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Weather Talk: 50 degrees is rare in February

When February brings a combination of a mild weather pattern and a limited snowpack, an occasional day has been known to warm into the 50s. On rare occasions, this has happened twice in the same month.

But there have only been three times since records began in 1881 that Fargo-Moorhead has had more than two February days in the 50s. Once was last year. On Feb. 17, 2017, the temperature hit 53 degrees. Two days later, it was 56 degrees. The following day, for good measure, it was 54 degrees.

Back in 1905, there were also three days in the 50s. But the record is from 1958, when there were five days in the 50s, including the February record of 66 degrees set Feb. 25, 1958.

Since 1881, there have been 3,889 February days, and just 41 of them have been 50 degrees or warmer. The probability of any single February day getting to 50 degrees has been about 1 percent.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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