Hope's Corner: Extreme North Dakota

"...Not only do we officially have better weather than California, we also have Salem Sue, the Enchanted Highway and no smog," writes Jackie Hope.

Jackie Hope BW.jpg
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. Hope's Corner is a weekly humorous column with a message of hope.
Contributed / For The Dickinson Press
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Last week in Dickinson it was snow boots with shorts weather. A friend posted a Facebook picture of her deck covered in snow, with her neighbor in the background mowing his lawn.

I settled upon “hoodie in a hailstorm” attire. It was too warm for a puffy coat. And there were too many hail squalls to go outside without a hoodie. My significant other went all-out, in a winter parka and a Ford beanie, to put the dumpster out on the street for garbage pick-up. Katie the Wonder Puppy was the most practical family member. She napped on the couch for two days, straight.

We are acclimated to variable weather here. Heck, every state in the Midwest boasts, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change.” But which states actually do have the most fickle weather?

There is something called the U. S. Climate Extremes Index, which was developed by the National Centers for Environmental Information – NOAA -- in 1996 to measure the extreme variations in climate among the 48 contiguous states. The goal of this index is to summarize all sort of climate data into an easily understood format, so that people who aren’t weather scientists can understand what is happening with our climate.

There is data for each state. All the weather data that has been collected since the beginnings of that kind of data collecting has been stored and crunched by the computers at NOAA. And each state is ranked by temperature, precipitation, drought, and number of hurricanes and tornadoes.


The worst weather record goes to -- wait for it -- California. Yes, the place with orange trees and surfing and smog and the original hippies. The temperatures have varied from 134 degrees to -45 degrees. The most rain in a 24-hour period was 25.8 inches. The most snow in 24 hours was 65 inches. Well, so much for sunny California.

No, North Dakota did not even make the top 15. Montana did. South Dakota did. Minnesota came in at number two. We did beat California in temperature extremes, however. In 1936 we went from -60 degrees in Parshall in February to 121 degrees in Steele in July. We went through 181 degrees of change compared to California’s 179 degrees. And we did it all in the same year. That ought to give us some sort of climate cred.

We live in our own little Garden of Eden here in North Dakota. That is all there is to it. And if silly old California has more climate extremes than us, well that is okay. Because not only do we officially have better weather than California, we also have Salem Sue, the Enchanted Highway, and no smog.

I am now feeling so good about our climate, next time it hails, I may go outside without my hoodie.

Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.

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