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Weather Talk: Subzero weather is in decline

So far this winter, there have been seven days in which the high temperature was below zero degrees in Fargo-Moorhead. The average during a winter season is eight, based on the most recent three complete decades from 1981 to 2010.

Last winter, there were just three days with subzero highs. The most recent winter with an above average number of subzero days was 2013-14 with 14. There were also 14 subzero days in the winter of 2008-09.

Some relatively recent winters with a lot of subzero highs were 1996-97 with 16 subzero days and 1995-96 with 20.

Since those two very cold back-to-back winters, there has been a noticeable decline in the frequency of subzero days. This is another sign of our wintertime warming trend.

The average since 2001 has been just six per winter. The average from 1881 through 1899 was 17. The record in any one winter is 1935-36 with 35 subzero days.

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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