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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On the next clear night, look for the planet Jupiter. It will be the brightest thing in the night sky other than the moon.
When the air is fairly dry, as it often is in spring, rain is still possible. In a cloud, the air is humid. You can tell it is humid up there by the presence of a cloud. When the air is dry near the ground, it can still be humid aloft.
In anything worth doing, there are fundamental, repetitive tasks that must be mastered in order to achieve excellence. A musician must practice scales. An artist must draw perspectives. For meteorologists, that fundamental task is map analysis.
Now that the thunderstorm season has arrived, it is time to start explaining to everybody that storms do not always change direction or weaken just before hitting their location. People watch their radar pictures and see nasty storms that appear to be headed straight for them, but it misses or isn't as bad as advertised.
Based on the past three decades, the average final 32 degree temperature of spring in Fargo Moorhead is May 12. This date in no way represents when the last frost usually occurs nor does it suggest when it "should" occur. In fact, there is a wide range of final frost dates stretching from April 17, 2007, to June 20, 1969. Even in the past ten springs, the final 32 degree temperature has varied from April 26, 2012, to May 27, 2008. So statistics are not of much help.
The National Weather Service (formerly the Weather Bureau) started recording the weather for Fargo-Moorhead January 1, 1881. That first year, every day's low and high temperature was simultaneously the highest and lowest on record. Starting January 1, 1882, the low and high temperature each day was either the record coldest or warmest low and either the record coldest or warmest high, depending on whether it had been colder or warmer in 1882 than in 1881.
April was a fascinating month from a climatological perspective. The average daily mean temperature of 34.5 degrees ranks as the sixth coldest April in Fargo-Moorhead since 1881. The first nine days of April were continuously below freezing. This ties the record set in 1881 for the most days below freezing in April. Daily record low maximum temperature records were set the 3rd (18 degrees) and the 6th (20 degrees). There were no subzero temperatures, but seven of the month's daily lows were in the single digits. In total, 24 of the month's 30 days were colder than average.
The cold front that blew across the region Monday night, April 30, dropped the temperature in Fargo-Moorhead from a late-afternoon high of 81 degrees to a low of 37 Tuesday morning. The range of 44 degrees is not that unusual this time of year, but it was made more noticeable by the fact that it happened during thunderstorms and that most of the cooling took place in about six hours.
The first thunderstorms of spring moved through the region Monday night, April 30. Rainfall was hit-and-miss. This is typical of thunderstorms because it is their nature to be smaller in scale than winter storm systems. But it is also the nature of our region to be lacking in moisture early in the growing season.
FARGO — It's May and yesterday, the last day of April, hit a high temperature of 80 degrees here. It was this April's highest temperature. The recent warmth and sunshine make it easy to forget how cold it was for much of last month. The coldest temperature here this April was 3 degrees on both April 6 and 7. For the first time in recorded history, the temperature in Fargo-Moorhead remained continuously below freezing for the first nine days of April. Records began in 1881, making the start to this past April the coldest in 138 years.