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Posted 1/20/15 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Even for those of us who have called North Dakota “home” for the better part of 50 or more years, bringing up North Dakota’s weather is always a good way to start a conversation.
“So what do you think of the cold temperatures,” one can ask when the raw temperature is a bone-chilling minus 40 degrees and a 40 mph wind has the wind chill hovering around the minus 80s.
“Kind of a warm one today isn’t it,” is always good for a few laughs and a rolling of the eyes when the summer’s temperature is pushing the thermometer to 100-plus degrees, and a howling wind makes it feel like you’re standing in front of a blast furnace.
North Dakota weather is pretty extreme. Without a doubt, we can have brutally hot temperatures in the summer, and equally bitter cold temperatures in the winter.
But, those extremes are usually short-lived, as can be witnessed so far this winter. We had an unusually early start to winter this year. But, by and large, so far we’ve had a pretty pleasant winter by North Dakota standards. Other than a few weeks when people were forced to really bundle up, light jackets have sufficed for those who aren’t working outdoors everyday.
Winter in North Dakota is kind of a mind game. We know it isn’t going to last forever. But some years, it feels like it will never end. The only consolation is that we know that spring is ultimately going to return to the northern prairie, and when it does, after a few months we can’t remember the cold and the snow.
In fact, this past weekend it was hard to believe that it was winter in North Dakota as temperatures hovered in the low 40s, and the sky was bright blue with white, wispy clouds that are so spring-like. And if you were in the right place, you could even enjoy birds singing. It was one of those weekends that make the typical North Dakota winter bearable.
But the reality is that we’ve still got a lot of winter ahead of us. The two or three week reprieve that we’ve had from cold temperatures has been a gift that we need to appreciate, but truly can’t expect to continue.
So enjoy the mild temperatures of winter while we have them. And when the cold temperatures and snows return in February and March, just remember, we are on the downhill slide of the winter season. Once January passes, spring is just a couple of months away.