48.9 inches and counting: Fargo winter season fourth snowiest
FARGO - Fargo just wrapped up its fourth-snowiest winter season on record - meteorologically speaking.
But despite consistent cold weather, it wasn't frosty enough to crack the top 20 coldest winter seasons, the National Weather Service said.
The meteorological winter season - which runs from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 - dumped 48.9 inches of snow on Fargo. That beat the previous fourth-place mark set in 1995-96 by just one-tenth of an inch, according to meteorologist Mark Ewens at the NWS office in Grand Forks, N.D.
The snowiest winter season on record was 1996-97, when 57 inches fell during the three-month period.
This also was the third-wettest winter season on record, with 3.64 inches of liquid precipitation.
That included a rare early February rain that set precipitation records of 0.26 inch on Feb. 9 and 0.34 inch on Feb. 10. The wettest season was 3.81 inches in 1897-98.
The winter season's average temperature of 6.4 degrees was 4.7 degrees below normal, making it the coldest since the 1995-96 average of 5.3 degrees.
"We just had a persistent cold air mass over us," weather service meteorologist Dan Riddle said.
The season began with 33.5 inches of snow in December, a record for any month. February's snowfall total was 8.1 inches, or 0.9 inch above normal.
Average temperatures were 6.7 degrees below normal in December, 5.1 degrees below normal in January and 2.5 degrees below normal in February.
The outlook for early spring calls for a return to stormier weather, Riddle said. Multiple weather models indicate a winter storm may affect the area Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, he said.
So, while the meteorological winter is over, the snowfall likely isn't.
"We all know spring doesn't necessarily mean spring around here," Riddle said.