North Dakota has hot summers and long cold winters. Its maximum precipitation falls in spring and early summer. Weather conditions, including temperature, can change rapidly. Mean temperatures in Bismarck, near the center of the state, are representative of those of most parts of the state. January, the coldest month, has an average temperature of -13° C (9° F), and July, the warmest month, averages 21° C (70° F). Extremes of 49° C (121° F) and -51° C (-60° F) have been recorded. At Bismarck, the growing season averages 134 days, as the average date of the last killing frost is May 11 and that of the first killing frost is September 22. The length of the growing season drops to about 110 days in the northerly reaches of the state.
The long periods of summer sunshine at this latitude, providing as much as 16 hours of daylight in summer, help crops to mature quickly, thus compensating somewhat for the relatively short growing season.
Temperatures in the north are, on the average, several degrees lower than those in the south. Some of the greatest variations are from west to east. The west is affected by Chinook winds while the east is not. Average January temperatures range from -10° C (14° F) in the west to -16° C (3° F) in the east.
The range for precipitation is also greater from east to west. Precipitation ranges from 510 mm (20 in) in the east to 360 mm (14 in) in the west. Snowfall is relatively light, although low temperatures keep the snow from melting and strong winter winds can cause enormous snowdrifts. Most of the precipitation falls during the growing season and therefore benefits farming. The precipitation averages are about the minimum needed for farming, and at times dry years have caused crop disasters. © "United States" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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