NATIONAL WEATHER SUMMARY
1st-8th…In early March, snow, sleet, and record-setting cold covered a large area of the country, including portions of the Plains, Midwest, Mid-South, and Mid-Atlantic region. Some of the coldest March weather on record trailed the late-winter storm, with temperatures plunging below -20F across parts of the northern Plains and upper Midwest, and falling to sub-zero levels as far south as northern Oklahoma. As the week progressed, warmer weather eroded or eliminated much of the snow, although extensive coverage remained across the Great Lakes region. Meanwhile, frequent precipitation events across the South boosted moisture in preparation for spring planting, but cool, wet conditions hampered pre-planting fieldwork. Although most of the Southern precipitation fell as rain, some areas reported snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Elsewhere, Western precipitation shifted northward, following the previous week’s California deluge. With the return of warm, mostly dry weather to California and the Southwest, odds increased that the winter wet season will soon end with substantial season to date and 3-year precipitation deficits still intact. In contrast, the combination of heavy rain and melting snow led to river rises and local flooding from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. Early in the week, a severe, late-season cold outbreak continued east of the Rockies. In northern Minnesota, Embarrass opened the week with lows of -44 and -40°F, respectively, on March 2-3. Daily-record lows fell below -20°F in locations such as International Falls, MN (-33F on March 3); Gaylord, MI (-26F on March 3); Kennebec, SD (-22F on March 2); and Valentine, NE (-21F on March 2). All-time monthly low temperature records were broken on March 2 in Billings, MT (-21F), and Pierre, SD (-20F). Pierre again recorded -20F on March 3. Elsewhere on the 3rd, monthly record lows included -16F in Flint, MI (previously, -12F on March 2, 1978), and Rockford, IL (tied -11F on March 1, 1962). With a minimum of -24F on March 2, Green Bay, WI, experienced its lowest temperature since February 4, 1996 (also -24F), and second-lowest March reading behind -29F on March 1, 1962. By March 4, monthly record lows in the Mid-Atlantic region dipped to 4F in Baltimore, MD (previously, 5F on March 4, 1873), and -1F at Dulles Airport, VA (previously, -1F on March 15, 1993). Sub-zero readings occurred deep into the Plains, especially on March 3, when daily-record lows included -5F in Gage, OK, and Garden City, KS. Bartlesville, OK, notched consecutive daily-record lows (1 and 0F, respectively) on March 3-4. For the first time on record in March, high temperatures on the 2nd failed to reach zero in Waterloo, IA (-1F); did not exceed the 5-degree mark in Lincoln, NE, and Concordia, KS (both 5F); and did not attain the 10F mark in Rockford, IL (9F). On March 3, highs of 26F in Tyler and Longview, TX, set or tied monthly records. The cold weather lingered into March 4, when Lake Charles, LA (high of 35F), failed to top the 35F in March for the first time on record. In contrast, several daily-record highs were established in the Northwest. In Washington, record-setting highs included 66F (on March 4) in Yakima and 63F (on March 5) in Ephrata. Meanwhile, cold weather was slow to erode from the Great Lakes States into the Northeast. Daily-record lows for March 6 included -24F in Pellston, MI, and -23F in Massena, NY. Elsewhere in New York on March 6, Rochester (-9F) achieved a monthly record low. Early-month snow and sleet was initially heaviest across the Midwest but later spread to other areas. Daily-record snowfall totals for March 2 reached 4.0 inches in Fort Wayne, IN, and 2.7 inches in Dayton, OH. On the strength of a 3.2-inch snowfall on March 1-2, Peoria, IL, achieved its snowiest season on record. Peoria’s July 1 – March 8 total of 54.6 inches surpassed its July 2010 – June 2011 seasonal standard of 52.5 inches. Record-setting snowfall amounts for March 3 included 4.9 inches at Dulles Airport, VA; 4.6 inches in Lexington, KY; and 2.5 inches in Harrison, AR. Farther south, Alexandria, LA, received a daily record snowfall (0.2 inch) on March 4. Heavy rain prior to the changeover to snow and sleet contributed to daily-record precipitation totals for March 2 in locations such as Memphis, TN (2.39 inches), and Bowling Green, KY (2.03 inches). Meanwhile in the Northwest, snow changed to heavy rain as warmer weather arrived. On March 2, daily-record snowfall amounts climbed to 10.0 inches in Kalispell, MT, and 1.6 inches in Yakima, WA. Three days later, daily-record precipitation totals included 1.65 inches in Quillayute, WA, and 1.46 inches in Salem, OR. Quillayute tallied another daily-record total (2.70 inches) on March 8, and during the first 8 days of March received 7.80 inches. Toward week’s end, rain returned to the Southeast, with some wintry precipitation in northern sections of the region. On March 7, Greensboro, NC, set daily records for both precipitation (1.79 inches) and snowfall (3.0 inches). Other record-setting totals for March 7 were 2.10 inches in Cape Hatteras, NC, and 1.28 inches in Danville, VA.
9th-15th..A cold frontal boundary extended across the West Coast and the Intermountain West on Monday, while a low pressure system developed over the Gulf of Mexico. A cold front propagated eastward over the West Coast and the Intermountain West on Monday as widespread rain moved across a handful of states. High wind warnings were issued in the upper Intermountain West, while flood warnings were issued at lower elevations. Moderate showers moved across parts of Washington, Oregon, northern California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana, as McCall, Idaho, reported a midday total of 1.19 inches of rain. A wintery mix of rain and snow impacted the higher elevations across the northern Rockies, as winter storm warnings were issued in Idaho and Montana. The Southwest stayed clear of wet weather on Monday due to high pressure over the Four Corners. El Centro, CA, recorded a mid-day high of 80 degrees. Meanwhile, an area of low pressure developed over the western portion of the Gulf of Mexico, which triggered moderate showers over southern Texas. Cotulla, Texas, reported a mid-day total of 0.40 inches of rain. The remainder of the central U.S. avoided precipitation. The majority of the East Coast also avoided rain and snow on Monday. A ridge of high pressure brought warm, dry conditions to the Southeast, as Stuart, Fla., recorded a mid-day high of 82 degrees. Scattered showers pushed across parts of Mid-Atlantic, while the Northeast experienced mostly clear conditions.
A wet snow forced residents of Chicago and the Midwest to once again break out shovels and slog to work along slippery roads and slow transit lines, a reality check for winter-weary residents who had just reveled in a day or so of spring-like temperatures. Along the storm's eastward track, upstate New York was gearing up for a blizzard. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in northern Illinois lost power and a few hundred flights were canceled at Chicago's airports, including Midway International, where 6 inches of snow fell. The storm was moving east into northern Indiana, and it was forecast to hit the Great Lakes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York before dissipating over Canada.
The picture was similar in upstate New York, where hundreds of schools called off classes after the weather service warned that a blizzard with winds of up to 50 mph could paralyze the area from western New York to the Adirondacks. After a few days of spring-like thawing, the return to snow-covered streets and trees was a jarring sight. Forty mph winds blotted out the lit-up skyline for a few hours before dawn and left trees glazed with heavy snow. Workers downtown grunted as they heaved slush with well-worn shovels. Others rushed to return sidewalk signs warning pedestrians of ice falling from skyscrapers.
The shift in temperatures, from the 50s on Monday to back below freezing, caused some confusion.
Rainy Indianapolis experienced a swift temperature drop of about 30 degrees, from 68 late Tuesday afternoon to 37 early Wednesday. In Missouri, temperatures that peaked in the high 70s and in St. Louis as high as 83 degrees on Tuesday were replaced with high winds and temperatures in the low 30s Wednesday morning.
A pair of low pressure systems moved across the northwestern corner of the country on Friday, while a cold frontal boundary extended from the central Rockies to the western Great Lakes. Winter weather advisories were issued across Washington, Idaho and Montana on Friday as a cold frontal boundary approached the Pacific Northwest. Low pressure brought rainy weather to Washington and Oregon, while snow showers pushed across the Cascades and the northern Rockies. Quillayute, WA, reported a midday total of 0.97 inches of rain, while Hoquiam, Wash., reported a midday total of 0.57 inches of rain. High wind warnings were also issued in northwestern Montana, as Browning, Mont., recorded wind speeds of 48 mph. A strong ridge of high pressure over the eastern Pacific kept conditions mostly calm across the California, as El Centro, CA, recorded a midday high of 80 degrees. Just to the east, low pressure lingered over the Four Corners, as scattered showers developed over Arizona and New Mexico. Light snow showers also occurred over the southern Rockies. Meanwhile, a cold frontal boundary extended from Colorado to Lake Michigan on Friday. Low pressure along the northern end of the front brought a mixture of rain and snow to Wisconsin and Michigan. Just to the south, scattered showers pushed across the middle Mississippi Valley. The Eastern Seaboard stayed mostly clear of rain and snow, although scattered snow showers began to move across northwestern New England.
16th-22nd…Cool, wet weather was observed in the Southeast. Weekly precipitation totaled 2 to 4 inches, with locally higher amounts, in northern Florida, southern Alabama, and much of Georgia. Farther north, a late-season snowfall blanketed parts of the Mid-Atlantic region on March 16-17. Occasional snow, albeit mostly light, also fell from the Midwest into the Northeast. However, there was enough warmth to melt much of the remaining Midwestern snow cover, except from Minnesota to Michigan. Snow also remained on the ground from New York to New England. Farther west, periods of light precipitation affected the northern and central Plains, but dry weather persisted in the southern Plains. On March 18, portions of the southern Plains endured the latest in a string of dust storms. Elsewhere, precipitation was confined to the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, while dry weather stretched from California to the southern Rockies. California’s dry weather, combined with above normal temperatures, led to some premature melting of high-elevation snowpack. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 5F above normal in much of California’s Central Valley and parts of the Desert Southwest. In contrast, readings averaged more than 5F below normal in some locations from the Midwest into the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States. Early in the week, a late winter storm unfolded across the Mid-Atlantic States. Atlantic City, NJ, netted consecutive daily record snowfall amounts on March 16-17, totaling 5.9 inches. Meanwhile, Virginia’s Dulles Airport received a March 16-17 storm total of 11.1 inches of snow. Dulles also secured its snowiest March on record, with 16.0 inches (previously, 15.5 inches in 1993), and fourth-snowiest season in the last half century. Dulles’ seasonal total climbed to 49.0 inches (230 percent of normal), behind only 73.2 inches in 2009-10; 61.9 inches in 1995-96; and 50.1 inches in 2002-03. Elsewhere, heavy showers soaked parts of the South, where daily-record totals for March 16 included 4.53 inches in Tallahassee, FL; 2.28 inches in Harrison, AR; and 1.63 inches in Springfield, MO. Sarasota- Bradenton, FL, netted a daily-record total of 3.04 inches on March 17. Later, periods of snow affected the nations northern tier. Flint, MI, inched closer to an all-time seasonal snowfall record of 82.9 inches in 1974-75. Flint’s weekly sum of 0.5 inch left its season-to-date total at 82.3 inches (188 percent of normal).
Elsewhere in Michigan, Detroit’s season-to-date snowfall of 90.7 inches (230 percent of normal) was less than 3 inches shy of its 1880-81 all-time record. However, enough warmth reached the Great Lakes region to end record-setting durations with at least
an inch of snow cover in both Flint and Detroit. Flint’s snow cover lasted for 101 days (December 9 – March 19), surpassing the 1962-63 record of 88 days. Detroit’s snow cover survived for 77 days (December 31 – March 17), edging the 1977-78 standard of 73 days. Lansing, MI, retained a 2-inch snow cover at week’s end, and thus continued to set records for snow-cover duration. Lansing’s streak with at least an inch of snow on the ground reached 104 days by March 22, bettering the 1962-63 mark of 101 days. During the second half of the week, heavy snow affected portions of the upper Great Lakes region and northern New England. Caribou, ME, received 10.2 inches of snow on March 20. The following day, record-setting snowfall totals in Minnesota included 10.4 inches in International Falls and 6.9 inches in Duluth. Farther west, the cumulative effect of recent
heavy rainfall led to a deadly landslide in Snohomish County, WA. Through March 22, month-to-date rainfall climbed to 11.17 inches (223 percent of normal) in Hoquiam and 7.71 inches (285 percent) in Seattle. Record-setting, early-week warmth in California contrasted with lingering cold across the North. Daily-record highs in California on March 16 soared to 92F in Elsinore, 91F in Escondido, and 89F in Santa Maria. Warmth also lingered early in the week across southern Florida, where Miami posted a daily-record high
(88F) on March 17. In contrast, Montpelier, VT, opened the week with consecutive daily-record lows (-5 and -13F, respectively) on March 16-17. Other daily-record lows included -
23F (on March 16) in International Falls, MN, and -13F (on March 17) in Pellston, MI. During the mid- to late-week period, cooler air overspread much of the West. Daily-record lows dipped to 10F (on March 19) in Cedar City, UT, and 25F (on March 21) in Pendleton, OR. In Washington, daily record lows for March 22 included 21F in Whitman Mission and 24F in Olympia. Sub-zero temperatures returned to the northern Plains on March 22, when Gold Butte, MT, collected a daily record low of -15F. Farther south, the southern Plains endured another dust storm on March 18, when visibilities dropped to a half-mile or below in Texas locations such as Amarillo and Lubbock. On that date, wind gusts were clocked to 49 mph in Amarillo and 58 mph in Lubbock.
23-31st…An active weather pattern led to widespread precipitation across much of the country, although showers largely bypassed the Southwest and the southern High Plains. In the latter region, ongoing drought—combined with periods of warm, windy weather with blowing dust. Farther north, cold, wet conditions were observed across the northern Plains and Midwest, especially in areas—such as the Great Lakes region—where snow remained on the ground. Some of the late-March Midwestern precipitation fell in the form of snow.
Late-season snow also fell from the Appalachians and the Mid-Atlantic States to coastal New England. Heavy rain soaked the South, especially late in the week. Elsewhere, wet weather persisted in the Northwest, following the deadly March 22 landslide in western
Washington, while beneficial precipitation overspread parts of California and the Great Basin. Early in the week, frigid conditions returned to portions of the Plains and Midwest. On March 23, daily-record lows included 3F in McCook, NE, and 7F in Hill City, KS. Meanwhile, International Falls, MN, opened the week with a daily-record low of -26F. By March 24, very cold air settled across the Great Lakes and Northeastern States, where daily-record lows dipped to -12F in Pellston, MI; -11F in Massena, NY; and -6F in Montpelier, VT. Montpelier set another record (-8F) on March 25, along with Maine locations such as Houlton (-17F) and Millinocket (-9F). Elsewhere in Maine, Bangor (0F on March 25) set a record for its latest reading of 0F or below (previously, -3F on March 20, 1939). In contrast, record-setting warmth prevailed early in the week across Florida’s peninsula and spread inland across the West. In Florida, record-setting highs for March 23 reached 90°F in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Farther west, daily-record highs for March 24 included 85°F in Fresno, CA; 74F in Eugene, OR; and 67F in Hoquiam, WA. On March 25, Salt Lake City, UT, posted a daily-record high of 75F—and noted its warmest day since October 7. During the mid to late week period, another surge of unusually cold air arrived across the Midwest, South, and East. Record-breaking lows for March 26 included -11F in Gaylord, MI; 7F in Youngstown, OH; 20F in Cape Girardeau, MO; and 26F in Macon, GA. The Eastern chill lingered through March 27, when daily-record lows fell to 9F in Binghamton, NY; 12F in Atlantic City, NJ; and 24F in New Bern, NC. Toward week’s end, however, record-setting warmth arrived in the western Gulf Coast region, where Corpus Christi, TX, logged a daily-record high of 98F on March 28. Billings, MT, received 2.4 inches of snow on March 23-24—enough to set a seasonal snowfall record of 99.2 inches (previously, 98.7 inches in 1996-97). Meanwhile in Michigan, Detroit and Flint edged closer to seasonal snowfall records. Detroit received an inch of snow on March 25 and will need 2.0 inches to eclipse its 1880-81 standards of 93.6 inches. Flint netted snowfall totaling 0.3 inch on March 25 and will require 0.4 inch to surpass its 1974-75 mark of 82.9 inches. Farther south, daily-record snowfall totals on March 25 reached 3.9 inches in Atlantic City, NJ; 3.8 inches at Virginia’s Dulles Airport; and 2.0 inches in Lexington, KY. As a result,
Dulles Airport’s record-breaking March snowfall climbed to 19.8 inches (previously, 15.5 inches in 1993). Meanwhile, Miami, FL, collected a daily-record rainfall (1.49 inches) for March 25. The following day, a rapidly intensifying Atlantic storm clipped coastal New England with high winds and heavy snow. Blizzard conditions were noted on March 26 for more than 6 consecutive hours in Massachusetts locations such as Nantucket (peak gust of 82 mph and an estimate of more than 9 inches of snow) and Hyannis (70 mph). By mid-week, beneficial showers arrived in California, where Stockton (0.66 inch on March 25) observed a daily-record amount. High winds preceded the Western storminess, with March 26-27 peak gusts clocked to 76 mph in Inyokern, CA; 69 mph in Winslow, AZ; and 64 mph in Clines Corners, NM, and Tekamah, NE. From March 26-28, widespread snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet were noted across the northern and central Rockies and northern Intermountain West. On March 28, heavy rain in the Southeast resulted in daily-record totals in locations such as Pensacola, FL (4.01 inches); Memphis, TN (3.14 inches); and Greenville, MS (2.71 inches). At the same time, a new wave of precipitation arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Record-setting rainfall totals for March 28 also included 1.69 inches in Portland, OR, and 0.87 inch in Seattle, WA. Seattle’s February-March precipitation totaled 15.55 inches (215 percent of normal), surpassing the 1972 record of 14.85 inches. Seattle also broke a March rainfall record (9.44 inches, or 254 percent of normal), previously set with an 8.40-inch sum in 1950. At week’s end, heavy rain shifted into the East and continued in the Northwest. Daily-record totals for March 29 reached 2.68 inches in Islip, NY; 2.29 inches in Newark, NJ; 2.15 inches in Bridgeport, CT; and 0.51 inch in Modesto, CA. Rain changed to snow in parts of the Midwest, where Fort Wayne, IN, tallied a daily-record snowfall of 1.0 inch on March 29.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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