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NATIONAL STORM SUMMARY
1-7: A complex, late-winter storm produced heavy rain, followed by heavy snow, across the Mid-South from March 3-5, resulting in widespread flooding and travel disruptions. Significant effects from the storm also reached the Mid-Atlantic States, causing less flooding but similar travel woes. Prior to reaching the South, East, and lower Midwest, the storm was also responsible for widespread precipitation in the Southwest. In southern California, precipitation was mostly beneficial but failed to reach key watershed regions, including the Sierra Nevada. As a result, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada
snowpack remained stalled at 5 inches, less than 20 percent of the early-March normal. Early in the week, a disturbance crossing the lower Midwest and Northeast contributed to daily-record snowfall totals for March 1 in Indianapolis, IN (5.9 inches); Islip, NY (5.6 inches); and Columbus, OH (3.6 inches). Meanwhile, heavy rain in the Gulf Coast region led to a daily record rainfall amount (3.09 inches) in Lake Charles, LA. Farther west, a developing storm brought heavy precipitation to parts of the Southwest. Record setting totals for March 2 included 1.71 inches in Flagstaff, AZ, and 0.79 inch in Cedar City, UT. Flagstaff’s March 1-3 total of 3.69 inches included 17.3 inches of snow. Precipitation fell as far north as Wyoming, where daily record amounts for March 2 reached 0.48 inch in Casper and 0.40 inch in Rawlins. During the 4-day period ending March 2, several 2- to 4-foot snowfall totals were reported in western Colorado. Coal Bank Pass, CO, received nearly 30 inches. From March 3-5, heavy precipitation fell across the interior Southeast. Three-day totals in Kentucky included 3.86 inches in Frankfort, 3.62 inches in Lexington, and 3.51 inches in Louisville. Much of the heavy rain fell on March 4, when daily-record amounts totaled 2.43 inches in Texarkana, AR, and 2.36 inches in Jackson, KY. By day’s end, rain across the interior Southeast and lower Midwest changed to heavy snow. On March 4-5, Lexington’s 17.1-inch snowfall marked the greatest 2-day total in station history (previously, 13.5 inches on January 13-14, 1917, and January 26-27, 1943). With 11.9 inches on March 4-5, Louisville observed its second-highest 2-day total in March behind only 12.4 inches on March 22-23, 1968. Heavy snow spread into the Mid-Atlantic States and southern New England on March 5, when daily-record totals reached 9.5 inches at Virginia’s Dulles Airport; 7.0 inches in Wilmington, DE; 7.0 inches in Atlantic City, NJ; and 6.3 inches in Providence, RI. Accumulating snow was reported on March 5 across parts of the Deep South, resulting in daily-record totals in locations such as Waco, TX (0.7 inch); Jackson, MS (0.3 inch); and Alexandria, LA (0.3 inch).
8-14: Rain returned to the Ohio Valley and parts of the South, bringing a new round of flooding. The heaviest rain, locally 2 to 4 inches or more, fell from eastern Texas into the lower Mississippi Valley, as well as the lower and middle Ohio Valley. By week’s end, the Ohio River at Cincinnati, OH, climbed to its highest level since 1997. The week began with the first of two batches of rain affecting the South. In Texas, daily record rainfall totals for March 8 included 1.22 inches in Victoria and 1.04 inches in Corpus Christi. Brownsville, TX, received 4.08 inches of rain from March 8-12, marking its fourth-wettest 5-day period on record in March. Victoria (2.90 inches), Corpus Christi (2.15 inches), and Brownsville (2.03 inches) all reported daily record amounts on March 9. Elsewhere, record-setting totals for March 9 reached 3.09 inches in College Station, TX; 2.04 inches in Texarkana, AR; and 1.78 inches in Hattiesburg, MS. New Orleans, LA, netted a daily-record sum (2.27 inches) on the 10th, to a March 9-13 total of 4.07 inches. With a final surge of heavy rain on March 12, Shreveport, LA, collected a daily-record sum of 2.46 inches. The following day, record setting values for March 13 totaled 3.31 inches in Cape Girardeau, MO, and 2.11 inches in Paducah, KY. By early March 15, the Ohio River at Cincinnati, OH, crested 5.72 feet above flood stage. That marked the highest level in that location since early-March 1997, when the river crested nearly 7 feet higher (12.70 feet above flood stage).
15-21: Another week of wet weather covered the western Gulf Coast region to the Mississippi Delta. Mid to late week rainfall totaled 2 to 4 inches or more along and near the
Texas coast. Early-week snow pushed Boston, MA, to a seasonal snowfall record. Boston’s 2.9-inch total on March 15 boosted the season to date accumulation to 108.6 inches (previously, 107.6 inches in 1995-96). On March 17, wind gusts in the wake of the
Northeastern snowfall were clocked to 58 mph in Hartford, CT, and 57 mph in Bangor, ME. High winds (and precipitation) also overspread the Pacific Northwest, where Garibaldi, OR, reported a wind gust to 83 mph on March 15. Elsewhere on the 15th, daily record totals in Washington reached 2.20 inches in Seattle; 2.08 inches in Olympia; and 1.33 inches in Spokane. Later, mid-week precipitation resulted in daily record amounts in locations such as Victoria, TX (1.73 inches on March 18), and Pueblo, CO (0.41 inch on March 19). Late in the week, snow returned to parts of the Northeast, while heavy rain expanded across the western Gulf Coast region. Boston reported 1.7 inches of snow on March 20-21. In New York, daily-record snowfall totals for March 20 reached 5.3 inches in Islip and 4.6 inches at LaGuardia Airport. A day later in Texas, record setting rainfall totals for March 21 climbed to 6.11 inches in Beaumont-Port Arthur and 3.73 inches in Galveston.
22-28: In the central and eastern Oklahoma, strong thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes accompanied the rain, most of which fell on March 25. Early in the week, late season snow blanketed portions of the Great Lakes region. Daily record snowfall totals for March 23 included 5.1 inches in Rockford, IL, and 4.7 inches in South Bend, IN. Chicago, IL, netted a March 22-23 storm total of 5.8 inches—most (5.6 inches) of which fell on the latter date. For Rockford and Chicago, March 23 was the snowiest spring day since April 5, 1982, when totals reached 9.4 and 6.3 inches, respectively. Meanwhile, precipitation overspread
the Northwest, while high winds swept across parts of southern California. Daily record amounts for March 23 totaled 1.00 inch in Portland, OR, and 0.65 inch in Lewiston, ID. On March 24, a wind gust to 72 mph was clocked in Sandberg, CA. The following day,
March 25, a gust to 85 mph was reported on southern California’s Whitaker Peak. Farther north, another round of precipitation led to daily record totals for March 25 in Washington locations such as Quillayute (2.49 inches) and Bellingham (1.15 inches). Toward week’s end, snow showers developed across the mid-South and adjacent regions. On March 28, a trace of snow fell in Memphis, TN, and Tupelo, MS, while 0.1 inch was reported in Jonesboro, AR. Farther west, high winds overspread the northern Plains and northern
Intermountain West, with March 28 gusts clocked to 71 mph in Lander, WY; 68 mph in Dickinson, ND; and 66 mph in Cut Bank, MT. On the 25th, several tornadoes struck Oklahoma and Arkansas. One of the Oklahoma twisters, rated EF-2 with estimated winds of at least 125 mph, carved a 9-mile path across Osage and Tulsa Counties, resulting in one fatality before lifting near Sand Springs, just west of Tulsa.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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