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WeatherTalk: The great cold wave of 1996 is remembered

There were six consecutive days when it was never warmer than -9 degrees.

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FARGO - It has been 26 years since the big cold wave of January and February, 1996; the worst cold spell in our region since 1936. It began with a terrible blizzard January 17-18. Eighteen inches of snow fell with temperatures well below zero during and wind chills in the -40s and -50s. For almost three weeks following the blizzard, the temperature remained below zero for all but two afternoons, including eleven consecutive days below zero.

At the heart of the cold wave, there were six consecutive days when it was never warmer than -9 degrees and two consecutive days when it was never warmer than -21 degrees. On Feb. 1, 1996, the morning low in Fargo Moorhead was -39 degrees and the afternoon high was -28 degrees. The memories of both the blizzard and cold wave of 1996 were somewhat overshadowed by the heavy snows and spring flood the following winter of 1996-97.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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