Unseasonably warm temps bring early spring to Red River Valley

It's so unseasonably warm in the Red River Valley this week that golf enthusiasts might be searching for places to swing their clubs -- and farmers just might be itching to get out to their fields.

Spring thaw
People walk down a downtown Grand Forks alley during recent spring weather.

It's so unseasonably warm in the Red River Valley this week that golf enthusiasts might be searching for places to swing their clubs -- and farmers just might be itching to get out to their fields.

Grand Forks set a record high temperature Monday -- for the second consecutive day. Monday's high of 58 broke the record of 54, set on March 9, 1977, according to the National Weather Service.

That followed Sunday's record-tying 48, matching the March 8 high set back in 1905.

The weather's so mild that one area golf course, Village Green Golf Course in Moorhead, announced it will open its driving range at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Grand Forks golfers aren't that fortunate, however, the Grand Forks Park District indicated Tuesday there are no plans yet to open golf courses or driving ranges.


Even so, it looks as though it's going to be warmer and drier than normal over the next several days -- and perhaps beyond.

Record to near-record highs are expected Wednesday and Thursday, with areas in the Red River Valley forecasted to hit around 60. Temps in the low to mid-60s are not out of the question Thursday, according to Vince Godon, a meteorologist with the weather service's Grand Forks office.

A slight cool down is likely Friday, before the possibility of more record high temperatures this weekend.

"The pattern doesn't favor any storms or late season snow storms we often get, unless some unexpected changes occur," he said. "There could be some a few rain showers late Sunday night or Monday with a cold front, but nothing significant."

Here are the current record high temperatures forecasted for the next three days in Grand Forks and Fargo:

Wednesday: 56 at the Grand Forks airport; 57 at UND; and 59 in Fargo.

Thursday: 56 at the Grand Forks airport; 64 at UND; and 62 in Fargo.

Friday: 59 at the Grand Forks airport; 59 at UND; and 64 in Fargo.


On Tuesday, temperatures in the area were: 54 at the Grand Forks airport; 55 at the weather service office; and 58 in Fargo.

While the warmer weather is a welcomed respite from this year's February freezer, it's still too early to to make any bold predictions about the spring planting season.

The weather service's six- to 10-day forecast indicates above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the Red River Valley. Stretching that out two weeks to March 23, he said temperatures could cool to the normal range, but the below-normal precipitation pattern likely will continue.

"Those who look out further are saying it looks like above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation patterns," he said.

However, patterns can change in a hurry, he said.

This winter season, so far, resembles those of 2011 and 2000, when when drier-than-normal conditions foretold a flood-free spring throughout the valley, according to Godon.

In those years, too, people were concerned about the lack of moisture and what it might mean for spring planting and the prospects of a good year for agriculture.

Citing 2011 records from Fargo, he said it was fairly dry from January through April. That period was followed by more than 4 inches of rain falling in May, June and July.


A similar scenario played out through the first five months of 2000.

"In June, we received 12 inches of rain," he said. "So it can change pretty quickly."

The point, he said, is that it's too early to tell what the planting and growing seasons will bring.

"It's dry now," he said, "but a slow-moving storm that drops a fair amount of rain over a couple of days will change things pretty fast."

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