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John Wheeler: Sometimes, it gets warmer at night or colder during the day

These are the wintertime occurrences of non-standard diurnal temperatures.

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FARGO — There are many obvious differences between weather in winter and summer. Perhaps less obvious to most people, but fascinating to those of us who watch weather closely, are the wintertime occurrences of non-standard diurnal temperatures. In other words, those occasions when the temperature rises overnight or falls during the day. This almost never happens in summer, but it is relatively common in winter.

Because sunshine is relatively weak this time of year, daily temperature ranges caused by the sun are much smaller than in summer, often 10-15 degrees as opposed to 20-25 degrees in summer. Cold fronts, warm fronts, and even changes in cloudiness can produce changes in temperature larger than the relatively small day-to-night changes. Over the course of a winter, we will experience a non-standard daily temperature pattern about 20 to 40 times on average. These happen more frequently when the weather is cold and snow is on the ground.

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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