MARCH 2016


1-5: Early in the week warmth resulted in numerous daily-record highs across the Midwest and East. Elsewhere in Arizona, Phoenix posted five consecutive daily record highs (88, 89, 90, 91, and 88F) from February 29 –March 4. Similarly, Thermal, CA, noted a trio of daily record highs (90, 91, and 93F) from February 29 – March 2. After mid-week, record setting warmth arrived across the nation’s mid-section. On March 3, daily record highs climbed to 98F in McAllen, TX, and 68F in Dunkirk, MT. Warm conditions also dominated the Intermountain West, where Salt Lake City, UT, closed the week with consecutive daily record highs (69 and 68F, respectively) on March 4-5. In Montana, record setting highs for March 5 soared to 74F in Miles City and 71F in Billings. Farther east, however, Houghton Lake, MI, collected a daily-record low (-7F) on March 4.


6-12: Warm and mostly dry weather prevailed in the middle and southern Atlantic States, as well as large sections of the Plains and Southwest. Warmth dominated the U.S., especially east of the Rockies. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 15 to 20F above normal across the north-central U.S. and were above normal nationwide, except in portions of the Pacific Coast States. On March 6, daily record highs surged to 76F in Mobridge, SD; 75F in Bismarck, ND; and 74F in Miles City, MT. On March 7 in Nebraska, highs of 81F in Hastings and Grand Island represented the second-earliest readings of 80F or higher (previously, March 6, 1972, in both locations). Elsewhere on March 7, daily record highs included 82F in Hill City, KS, and 80F in Sioux City, IA. In the Northeast, the earliest 80-degree readings on record occurred on March 9 in locations such as Poughkeepsie, NY (82F); Philadelphia, PA (82F); Allentown, PA (80F); and Trenton, NJ (80F). In all cases, previous records had been set on March 12 or 13, 1990. The parade of Eastern records continued on March 10, when

Atlantic City, NJ (81F), reported its earliest 80-degree reading (previously, 85F on March 12, 1990). On March 9-10, consecutive daily record highs were broken at numerous sites, including Baltimore, MD (82 and 80F); Philadelphia (82F both days); and New York’s

Central Park (77 and 79F). Similarly, Elizabeth City, NC, collected daily record highs (82 and 81F, respectively) on March 10-11. Late in the week, warmth re-intensified across the nation’s mid-section. On March 11-12, daily record highs attained the 70-degree mark on consecutive days in South Dakota locations such as Sisseton (70 and 71F) and Aberdeen (71 and 72F). With a high of 81F on March 11, Valentine, NE, tied a record for its second-earliest reading of 80F or higher, behind only March 10, 1972 and 1995.


13-19: Despite the return of drier weather, significant flooding persisted from easternmost Texas to the Mississippi Delta, as water drained from creeks and bayous into larger rivers.

Despite the stormy weather, weekly temperatures he storm responsible for last week’s torrential rainfall and flooding in the South weakened and moved into the Midwestern and Eastern States. Lingering rainfall totaled an inch or more in portions of the Gulf Coast region. Despite the return of drier weather, significant flooding persisted from easternmost Texas to the Mississippi Delta, as water drained from creeks and bayous into larger rivers. Later, the focus for heavy precipitation shifted into the upper Midwest, where totals in excess of 2 inches caused local flooding, especially in averaged more than 10F above normal in parts of the upper Midwest. Similar temperatures, at least 10 to 15F above normal, were noted in the Ohio Valley and parts of the southern Atlantic States. Farther west, portions of the Plains received some light precipitation, including late week snow. However, short-term drought continued to expand across the southern Plains, reducing topsoil moisture. In addition, sharply colder weather arrived across the Plains

at week’s end, following a period of warmth. The late week cold snap resulted in cold temperatures in Kansas, southeastern Colorado, western Oklahoma, and northernmost

Texas. On Sunday, March 20, low temperatures ranged from 5 to 20F in western Oklahoma and parts of neighboring states.  Elsewhere, dry weather in the Southwest contrasted with light to moderately heavy precipitation in northern California and the Northwest. Much of the precipitation occurred early in the week, and was followed by a period of dry weather.

Elsewhere, record setting warmth lingered across the Deep South and returned to the nation’s mid-section. In North Dakota, daily-record highs for March 13 included 72F in Bismarck and 68°F in Jamestown. Bismarck also set a record the following day, with a high of 73F, while Mobridge, SD, climbed to 75F. Farther south, March 14-15 featured consecutive daily-record highs of 87°F in Shreveport, LA. Other daily-record highs for March 15 included 92°F in Austin, TX, and 89F in Montgomery, AL; Tupelo, MS; and Daytona

Beach, FL. The parade of Southeastern records continued on March 16 with highs of 90F in New Bern, NC, and 88F in Danville, VA, and Charleston, SC. New Bern also tied a monthly record, previously attained on March 8, 1974, and March 30, 1985. In Georgia, Savannah posted consecutive daily record highs of 87°F on March 15-16. Late in the week, however, dramatic change arrived across the northern Intermountain West and the Plains. Big Piney, WY, collected a daily-record low of -2°F on March 19. On March 20 in Kansas, Garden City’s low daily record low of 11F marked a steep decline from a high of 79F on the 14th.

Precipitation gradually ended across northern California and the Northwest, although daily record totals for March 13 included 2.40 inches in Redding, CA, and 0.97 inch in Salem, OR.


20-26: There was a concurrent increase in wildfire activity, including the 400,000-acre Anderson Creek fire near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Precipitation returned to the nation’s mid-section at week’s end, when some spotty but beneficial snow fell on the central and southern Plains. Nearly a week before the snow fell, however, low temperatures on

March 20 ranged from 5 to 20F in parts of a five-state area centered on the Oklahoma panhandle. Shortly after the freeze struck the Plains, high temperatures on March 21-22 generally ranged from 80 to 90F—only to return to sub-freezing levels by week’s end. Garden City, KS, opened the week with a daily record low of 10F, part of a broader cold outbreak that threatened the southern High Plains. The following day, however, daily record highs climbed to 91F in Tucson, AZ; 82 F in Pueblo, CO; and 81F in Chadron, NE. And, on March 22, Garden City’s daily-record high of 88F occurred less than 31 hours after the aforementioned low of 10F. Other record setting highs for March 22 included 87F in both Roswell, TX, and Lubbock, TX. For many locations on the southern Plains, winds peaked on

March 23, when Dalhart, TX, clocked a gust to 60 mph. Meanwhile, cool conditions briefly settled into the Southeast. On March 22, freezes were noted as far south as Crestview, FL

(30°F), and Augusta, GA (31F). However, warmth also quickly returned to the eastern U.S., where record setting highs for March 24 reached 79F in Morgantown, WV, and 76F in Georgetown, DE. New Bern, NC, posted a daily record-tying high of 84F on March 25. At week’s end, in the wake of a departing storm, chilly air returned to the Plains and Intermountain West. On March 26-27, Alamosa, CO, notched consecutive daily record lows (-2 and -3F, respectively).

An area of low pressure emerged over the central Plains on Wednesday, while conditions dried out across the West Coast.  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. Most of the East Coast stayed clear of wet weather due to high pressure over the Mid-Atlantic. Conditions also dried out across the West Coast on Wednesday, with the exception to scattered showers and high elevation snow over southern California. Big Bear City, Calif., reported a midday total of 5.0 inches of snow.


27-31:  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). Intervals of warmth and cool weather persisted in many parts of the country. Another freeze struck portions of the southern High Plains on March 27, followed by a daily record low (24F on March 28) in Fayetteville, AR. Garden City, KS, warmed from a low of 15F on March 27 to a high of 75F the next day. During the second half of the week, warmth returned to the Northwest and developed in the East. On the last day of March, daily record highs climbed to 78F in The Dalles, OR, and Yakima, WA. Heat briefly affected southern Texas, where McAllen logged a daily record high of 100F on March 31.

Jim G. Munley, jr.

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