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John Wheeler: The colder seasons have greater temperature variability

The primary reason for this is the temperature gradient across the northern hemisphere.

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FARGO — The cold months of the year also have the greatest temperature variability. Summer afternoon temperatures will usually vary from the 70s to the 90s. In winter, however, afternoon temperatures can vary from the -10s to the 40s and occasionally even the 50s. The primary reason for this is the temperature gradient across the northern hemisphere.

The equatorial regions of the Earth have temperatures near 90 degrees all year. Meanwhile, up around the North Pole, summer temperatures hover near freezing while winter temperatures are often 50 degrees below zero. This means the temperature difference between the equator and the pole varies from about 60 degrees in summer to 140 degrees in winter. This increased temperature gradient in the winter makes large scale storm systems more robust and causes a much wider variety of weather from day to day. This helps explain how our weather typically goes up and down with far more regularity as we get deeper into fall.

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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