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From the freezer to the pan: Cold April makes way for hot May

Pixabay / Special to The Forum1 / 2
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FARGO — If you've had the feeling that recent temperatures here have been too hot for May, you're not alone.

This May will go down as one of the hottest on record — bolstered by the fact that Fargo is coming out of a colder-than-normal April.

Nick Carletta, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said current data shows this May might end up in the top 10 hottest Mays on record for the Fargo area.

The average high in May this year was around 63.4 degrees, Carletta said, more than 6 degrees warmer than the normal average of around 57.

A three-day stretch from May 24-26 set record daily highs for Fargo at 92, 93 and 93 degrees, respectively. Several other days in May also saw temperatures get 15 to 20 degrees higher than average.

In contrast, there were many days in April with a temperature 10 to 15 degrees below the average. The first half of April in particular seemed to be an extension of winter, with some days dropping into the high 20s.

It is abnormal to go from such a cold April to a hot May, Carletta said.

"This kind of weather is how northern Plains weather works," said WDAY Meteorologist John Wheeler, who said dramatic shifts in temperatures are to be expected in our spring weather.

Aside from the abnormally cold days at the start of the month, April started reaching more average temperatures as the month went on, he said. Even May went through periods of hot and cold before settling into a stretch of 80- and 90-degree weather at the end.

"It's just natural for weather to go up and down," Wheeler said. "There's really no standard pattern set to it."

Both Wheeler and Carletta said the weather extremes experienced these past two months were regional. Other states in the Midwest — Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota — have gone through similar weather patterns.

The most obvious example of this whiplash weather is Minneapolis, which got nearly a foot of snow in mid-April only to experience a high of 100 degrees on Monday, May 28.

Even with Fargo's record-breaking three consecutive days of 90-plus-degree days in late May and the unusually cold start to April, Wheeler said single-day weather records really don't hold much weight.

"The extremes of weather are simply rarities," he said.

Less rain in the Fargo area also contributed to the higher temperatures, Carletta said.

North Dakota has been dryer than other states in the Great Plains region, Wheeler said, although variation in precipitation this time of year is expected.

Carletta said current weather models show above-normal temperatures are expected to continue into June, but that relative heat wave could moderate as the summer continues.

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