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Sue Bruns: Let’s talk about averages

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Columns Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Sue Bruns: Let’s talk about averages
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hear any more about the weather. That said, I’ve decided to say a few things about averages.


After a month of March with a reported average temperature of 15.5 degrees (Did it seem that warm to you?) and a yearly average so far for 2014 of 5.5 degrees (according to Bemidji, I was curious about what to expect in April. Could I wash up the Cuddle Duds, the stocking caps, and the wool socks and store them with other winter wear for a few months? Is it too early to get out the tank tops and shorts?

A long-range forecast I heard in March predicted that the next 90 days will be colder than average. (Remember, now. This is NOT about the weather. This is about AVERAGES.)  The climatologist who gave that forecast said it doesn’t mean that temperatures will be 20 degrees lower than average, as they were the week this long-range forecast was made — just “lower than average.”

In hopes of understanding exactly what that might mean for us for the month of April, I googled “Temperature and precipitation AVERAGES in Bemidji, MN, in April.” My search led me to  which described Bemidji, Minnesota as having “a humid continental climate with warm summers and no dry season.”  Sounds so … pastoral, inviting, and maybe damp.

What can we expect for April, according to the AVERAGES? Weather Spark says, “The month of April is characterized by very rapidly rising daily high temperatures, with daily highs increasing from 43 to 58 degrees over the course of the month.”

Averages tell us that the temperature is likely to exceed 73 degrees or fall below 30 degrees “only one day in ten” in April, and that the daily lows should range from 25-37 degrees. (*Note: all temps are, of course, in Fahrenheit because, in spite of what my teachers told me during the race to the moon period in the 1960’s, which was that the U.S. would be switching to the metric system and probably Celsius within a few years to be consistent with the rest of the scientifically advancing world, it still hasn’t happened, and I’ve heard very little talk about why not.)

Weather Spark also tells me that the chance of precipitation on any given day in April is 26 percent, so bring an umbrella along, but don’t carry it with you from your car to work or into the grocery story, because 74 percent of the time you won’t need it. And in Bemidji, if we do get precipitation on an April day, there is a 32 percent chance that it will be snow, so keep the Sorrels and the snow shovel in the trunk just in case.

If you’re planning on getting married this month and you don’t want it to rain on your parade, April 26, a Friday this year, is — on average — the driest day of the month, according to Weather Spark. If you’re more concerned about the wind blowing your bridal gown and $200 hair extensions around for those lovely outdoor pictures with the still-frozen lake, the snirty ground, and the bare trees in the background, you might want to know that for the month of April “the lowest average wind speed of 9 mph (gentle breeze) occurs around April 14.”  

Incidentally, Weather Spark describes a wind speed of 16 mph as a “moderate breeze,” which could still send your veil sailing and your train whipping around enough to topple over a small ring bearer or flower girl, so have a back-up plan for indoor wedding pics.

U.S. Climate Data dispels the stereotype many of us have of April as a rainy month, reporting that the average precipitation for April in Bemidji is just 1.1 inch. Only January, February, March and December have smaller averages of precipitation than April. It may surprise you to know (it surprised me, anyway) that our most precipitous month is (drum roll, or maybe thunder roll) — June, with an average of 4.37 inches, followed by July and August with 3.94 and 3.23 respectively.

Now remember, we’re talking averages here. Averages can be deceiving, especially when you live in a place where you can take a picture of your thermometer in January when the temperature plummets to  minus 40 and then get the camera out again in July when it peaks near 100.

Sadly, when you put it all together, you’ve got to wonder why you still live in a place where the AVERAGE ANNUAL high temperature is 48.8 degrees and the AVERAGE ANNUAL low is 28.3, making the AVERAGE temperature 38.55.

You’d think it would be enough to kill off the mosquitoes and woodticks at the very least.