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Soaring temperatures

For the second straight day, the temperature soared in Grand Forks and the region. Thursday's high of 44 degrees in Grand Forks was 3 degrees higher than the previous mark, set in 2001, according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.

For the second straight day, the temperature soared in Grand Forks and the region.

Thursday's high of 44 degrees in Grand Forks was 3 degrees higher than the previous mark, set in 2001, according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.

The local high was 39 degrees Wednesday, besting the 39 degrees set in 1984.

The warm weather is a bit unusual for this time of year, but Grand Forks is in the midst of an El Nino weather system and can expect less precipitation and warmer days, said Patrick Ayd, a meteorologist with the weather service in Grand Forks.

"That's the realm of things with El Nino," he said. "There are warmer periods in the winter, with above normal temperatures."

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Thursday morning, about a quarter of an inch of rain fell, turning recently fallen snow into thick slush on Grand Forks city streets and sidewalks.

But none of that slush was soaking into the ground, Ayd said. The frost depth is about 16 inches, he said.

"The ground is not exactly going to soak it up; rather, it's on its way into the water systems," he said. The frost depth will likely remain at 2 to 3 feet, at least until there's a long-term thaw, according to Gary Votaw, a meteorologist at the Grand Forks weather service office.

"I don't think the sun is helping a lot; it is really low in the sky and doesn't help warm us up that much," Votaw said. Air coming in from the west has caused warmer temperatures, he said.

Plus, with the warmer days and cooler nights, most of the snowmelt will freeze overnight, which can cause icy roads and sidewalks in the morning.

But warm temperatures in January in Grand Forks are not unheard of, according to Votaw.

On Jan. 10, 1990, Grand Forks temps rose to 52 degrees, Votaw said. "It's rare, but it has happened," he added.

This winter has seen few chillingly cold days.

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Most occurred in early December, with a temp of 6 below zero Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, and 10 below Dec. 7, Votaw said.

Temperatures slowly should get back to normal for this time of year within the next week, according to Votaw.

The high for today is expected to be about 29 degrees. Saturday's high will be the same. There's a 30 percent chance of snow Saturday night and Sunday morning.

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