The temperature has dropped below 28 degrees at least three times in the same May a total of 24 times since 1881, most recently in 2013. Of course, the distant past temperatures (1880s through the 1910s) were significantly colder, but it has happened five times in the last 50 years.

Even that sounds more impressive than it is. May only happens once a year, so this is really five times in the last 50 tries, or about 10 percent of the time.

Recent impressive May temperatures include May 12, 2013, when it was 24 degrees in Fargo and Grand Forks; May 11, 2008, when it was 25 degrees in both cities; and May 24, 2002, when it was 26 degrees in Fargo and 27 in Grand Forks. These are all comparable to temperatures in the current cold snap. So our recent weather has not been unusual in its duration nor in its severity.