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MARCH 2016


1-5: In the Midwest and Northeast, early week warmth yielded to colder weather and, in some cases, snow. During the transition, on February 29, wind gusts were clocked to 61 mph in Wheeling, WV, and 56 mph in Pellston, MI. February 29 also featured daily record snowfall totals in South Dakota locations such as Mitchell (5.2 inches) and Sioux Falls (4.5 inches). In Michigan, daily record snowfall totals for March 1 reached 7.4 inches in Grand Rapids and 7.2 inches in Lansing and Alpena. On March 2, Caribou, ME, reported a daily record snowfall of 7.5 inches. A little more snow fell in the Mid-Atlantic States on March 4, when daily-record amounts included 4.3 inches in Atlantic City, NJ, and 2.7 inches in

Wilmington, DE. Farther west, high winds developed on March 2 across the southern High Plains, raising dust. A gust to 67 mph was recorded on March 2 in Springfield, CO. On the same date, Guymon, OK, clocked a gust to 52 mph and reported a minimum visibility of 2.5 miles in blowing dust. Similarly, Borger, TX, had a minimum visibility of 4 miles and a peak gust to 50 mph. Farther west, an initial surge of Pacific moisture reached western Washington on March 1, when record-setting rainfall totals included 2.17 inches in

Hoquiam and 1.68 inches in Olympia. Significant precipitation finally returned to California on March 4-5. On the latter date, daily-record California rainfall totals reached

2.63 inches in Ukiah and 1.53 inches in Sacramento.


6-12: Torrential rainfall struck an area from easternmost Texas to the Mississippi Delta.

In northern Louisiana and environs, historic rainfall totals of 12 to 20 inches or more triggered widespread flooding that persisted for days, as water slowly drained from creeks and bayous to larger rivers. Rain extended northward across the southeastern Plains and into parts of the Midwest and Northeast. However, heavy rain (2 inches or more) reached only as far north as the lower Ohio Valley.


Significant storms continued to push across California and the Northwest. March storms have provided a nice boost in the Sierra Nevada snowpack (from 20 to 25 inches of water equivalency), while other recent California impacts have included large improvements in soil moisture and reservoir storage. Heavy precipitation fell in the West before reaching the South. During a 72-hour period ending on the morning of March 7, California rainfall totals reached 11.60 inches at Bucks Lake (Plumas County); 11.04 inches at Strawberry Valley (Yuba County); and 10.66 inches on Mount Umunhum (Santa Clara County). Meanwhile, locally heavy showers across the Intermountain West and the High Plains led to daily record totals on March 7 in Scottsbluff, NE (1.49 inches), and Lander, WY (0.50 inch, including 2.2 inches of snow). Farther east, downpours erupted on March 8 in the western and central Gulf Coast States. In Louisiana, record setting totals for the 8th reached 5.62 inches in

Monroe and 5.12 inches in Shreveport. Monroe was inundated with 10.86 inches of rain the following day, March 9, breaking an all-time daily rainfall record (previously, 7.40 inches on September 2, 2008). Monroe’s wettest March day had been March 21, 1955, when 5.48 inches fell. Selected daily-record totals for March 9 included 5.68 inches in Longview, TX; 5.64 inches in Greenville, MS; 5.30 inches in Monticello, AR; and 5.15 inches in Corpus Christi, TX. Corpus Christi’s wettest March day had been March 11, 1903, when 4.66 inches fell. During the 6-day period from March 8-13, Louisiana rainfall totals burgeoned to 21.29 inches in Monroe and 12.02 inches in Shreveport. Elsewhere, the March 8-13 deluge resulted in 13.35 inches in Greenville, MS; 11.68 inches in Monticello, AR; 10.58 inches in

Memphis, TN; and 10.08 inches in Longview, TX. Along the Texas Louisiana border, the Sabine River surged to record high levels in Texas locations such as Bon Wier (14.21 feet above flood stage on March 13, topping a high-water mark set in April 1913) and Deweyville (more than 9 feet above flood stage and still rising, eclipsing a May 1884 record). In Louisiana, crest records from April or May 1991 were topped in locations such as Bayou Dorcheat at Lake Bistineau (on March 13) and Bayou Bartholomew at Beekman (on March 12). A crest record from 1991 was also broken (on March 15) along the Coldwater River near Marks, MS. And, high-water marks from April 1983 were surpassed in Louisiana communities such as Bush (along the Bogue Chitto River on March 12) and Folsom (along the Tchefuncte River on March 11). Late in the week, heavy precipitation returned to California, where 72-hour rainfall totals ending the morning of March 14 included 10.44 inches at Strawberry Valley and 9.76 inches at Bucks Lake. Significant wind accompanied the storminess, especially in the Northwest. On March 9-10, wind gusts topped 100 mph at several locations in the Cascades of Washington and northern Oregon. Gusts were clocked to 74 mph (on March 9) in Astoria, OR, and 67 mph (on March 10) in Bellingham, WA. During the second wave of storminess, Bellingham reported a gust to 64 mph on March 13. Elsewhere, the primary headline was rampant warmth.


13-19: Later, the focus for heavy precipitation shifted into the upper Midwest, where totals

in excess of 2 inches caused local flooding, especially in driven snow blanketed portions of the upper Great Lakes region.  Precipitation in the Northwest was accompanied by strong winds, which on March 13 in Washington gusted to 64 mph in Bellingham and 63 mph in Hoquiam. In Yuba County, CA, Strawberry Valley reported 10.44 inches of rain in a 72-hour period from March 11-14—just a week after receiving 11.04 inches in a 72-hour period from March 4-7. Farther east, rain spread northward across the eastern half of the U.S., resulting in a daily record total (1.15 inches on March 13) in Topeka, KS. Later, Northwestern storminess took aim on the upper Midwest. Record setting amounts for March 14 reached 0.54 inch in Pocatello, ID, and 0.33 inch in Wisdom, MT. In Wisconsin, March 15-16 precipitation totals climbed to 3.35 inches in Wisconsin Rapids and 2.67 inches in Wausau. Daily record snowfall totals included 6.8 inches (on March 16) in International Falls, MN, and 8.2 inches (on March 17) in Marquette, MI. Elsewhere, a few late-week showers and thunderstorms dotted the Gulf Coast region, where New Orleans, LA, netted a daily record

sum of  (1.98 inches) for March 18.


20-26: Heavy precipitation ended early in the week across northern California and the Northwest, while the focus for stormy weather gradually shifted into the central and eastern U.S. Despite an active storm track, several areas—including much of the nation’s southwestern quadrant—remained unfavorably dry. The Northwestern storminess continued to provide relief from lingering drought by boosting high elevation snowpack, improving runoff and reservoir storage, and recharging groundwater reserves. Benefits of the precipitation extended as far south as northern California. Meanwhile, a spring storm produced heavy snow from the central Rockies to northern Lower Michigan, briefly disrupting travel and stressing livestock. The same weather system sparked scattered showers and thunderstorms across the eastern half of the U.S. and raised dust across the southern Plains and the Southwest. As the week began, a departing storm produced snow along the northern Atlantic Coast, with daily record totals reported in Bangor, ME (5.6 inches), and Islip, NY (1.8 inches). The next storm produced heavy precipitation in the Northwest and an impressive band of snow from the central Rockies into northern

Lower Michigan. Daily-record totals for March 22 included 0.94 inch in Pullman, WA, and 0.62 inch in Lewiston, ID. The following day, record setting snowfall totals for March 23 reached 14.1 inches in Cheyenne, WY; 7.5 inches in Norfolk, NE; and 6.1 inches in Eau Claire, WI. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Green Bay measured 8.1 inches of snow on March 23-24, including a daily-record sum (6.0 inches) on the 24th. Alpena, MI, netted a Daily record snowfall of 10.1 inches on March 24. Just to the south, heavy precipitation led to record setting amounts for March 24 in Detroit, MI (1.49 inches of rain), and Milwaukee, WI (0.95 inch, including 2.0 inches of snow and sleet). Toward week’s end, precipitation returned to parts of the western and central U.S. On March 25, Rapid City, SD, noted a daily-record snowfall of 3.0 inches. Elsewhere in South Dakota, Sioux Falls measured 6.4 inches of snow on the 26th. Farther south, Alamosa, CO, tallied a daily record snowfall (7.0 inches) for March 26. And, on the night of March 26-27, patchy snow across the southern half of the Plains totaled 3.5 inches in Wichita, KS, and 1.3 inches in Amarillo, TX.


27-31: An area of low pressure emerged over the central Plains on Wednesday. A low pressure system shifted east northeastward across the Intermountain West and the central Plains. Heavy snow impacted the Rockies and the central high Plains. Winter storm warnings were issued for Wyoming and southwest Nebraska. Wheatland, Wyo., reported a midday total of 12.0 inches of snow. Molas Pass, Colo., reported a midday total of 15.0 inches of snow. A cold frontal boundary associated with this system stretched southwestward. As this frontal boundary collided with warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, strong to severe thunderstorms broke out across the Plains, the Mississippi Valley and parts of the Midwest. Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for north central Texas, eastern Kansas and western Illinois. Flood warnings were also issued across the lower Mississippi Valley. Jacksonville, Ill., reported 1.25 inch sized hail. Springfield, Ill., reported a midday total of 1.07 inches of rain.

Early week rainfall soaked portions of the southern Atlantic region, while snow dusted parts of the central and southern Plains. With a 3.98-inch total on the 27th, Savannah, GA, noted its wettest March day on record (previously, 3.57 inches on March 5, 1959). Meanwhile in Kansas, record setting snowfall totals for March 27 included 3.5 inches in Wichita and 1.4 inches in Topeka. Still, large sections of the central and southern Plains remained dry. During the first 3 months of the year, precipitation in Garden City, KS, totaled 0.22 inch (9 percent of normal). Similarly, January-March totals included 0.69 inch (30 percent of normal) in Guymon, OK; 0.42 inch (28 percent) in Albuquerque, NM; and 0.41 inch (20 percent) in Dalhart, TX. On March 29, Gallup, NM, clocked a wind gust to 63 mph. In contrast, late-March snow blanketed the northern Great Basin and northern Intermountain West. Daily record snowfall totals in Nevada for March 28 reached 13.0 inches in Ely and 6.8 inches in Reno. In Wyoming, March 28-31 snowfall totaled 23.2 inches in Lander and 16.6 inches in Riverton. Lander received 2.97 inches of precipitation during the 4-day event. Farther east, heavy rain and locally severe thunderstorms erupted across the South. In Arkansas, daily-record rainfall totals for March 30 included 4.94 inches in North Little Rock, 4.63 inches in Pine Bluff, and 4.45 inches in Batesville. Rain extended into parts of the Midwest, where daily record totals reached 2.16 inches (on March 30) in Springfield, IL, and 1.38 inches (on March 31) in Dayton, OH. The last day of March featured a daily record rainfall of 5.01 inches in Greenwood, MS. The late month rainfall, in combination with the March 8-13 deluge, contributed to monthly precipitation records in locations such as Monroe, LA (24.38 inches; previously, 12.50 inches in 1980);

Greenville, MS (17.32 inches; previously, 15.83 inches in 1973); and North Little Rock, AR (12.23 inches; previously, 10.09 inches in 1990).


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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