According to the National Weather Service in North Webster, Indiana, the month past proved once again that March can be a month of extremes, as winter tried to hold on and spring struggled to begin. March roared in like a winter lion with cold and snow, but warmed considerably by mid-month as temperatures climbed into the upper 60s, kick starting dreams of springtime. Those dreams, along with the warmth, crashed into reality as record snow was recorded just a week later. The month did end like a lamb with temperatures closer to normal, but not enough to offset the fact that March was above normal in snowfall and below normal in temperature. March was also a record setter in severe weather…or the lack of it.
The first 8 days of March were below normal…and 4 of these days were more than 10 degrees below normal and 2 days were at least 20 degrees below normal. The next 13 days were near or above normal followed by another stretch of 8 days near or below normal. The coldest day of the month was the sixth with a high of just 24 and a low of three below zero for an average temperature of 11…23 degrees below normal. The warmest day was March 16 with a high of 67 and a low was 43 for an average temperature of 55…17 degrees above normal.
It was a relatively dry month with measurable precipitation falling on just 7 days. Four of these days saw a quarter inch or more of precipitation and one day had more than a half inch.
The average monthly temperature was 33.8 degrees, which was 4.6 degrees below normal. This ranked as the 26th coolest March. Precipitation was 2.07 inches, or 0.64 inches below normal. This ranked as the 32nd driest March on record.
March snowfall was 8.6 inches, 4.5 inches above normal. This ranked as the 17 snowiest March. Measurable snow fell on just three days with the greatest falling on March 23 with a single day record snowfall of 4.6 inches. This broke the previous record of 4.5 inches set on this date in 1965.
Normally, severe weather makes its debut in March as seasonal changes in the upper atmosphere usher in colliding warm and cold air masses. With cold air again holding sway, March was unusually devoid of activity. According to Stan Finger of the “Wichita (Kansas) Eagle” there was nary a severe thunderstorm watch in the entire United States from March 1 until March 24, let alone anything that could produce the dynamics required for a tornado.
On March 24 though, that all changed with the first tornadoes of the spring season…and regrettably, the first fatality. Normally a month that sees an uptick in tornadic weather, especially in the south and the central and southern Great Plains, March continued a trend of growing silence in the atmosphere, mainly because of the abnormal cold. With the first 23 days of the month being devoid of tornadoes, March 2015 set a record for the longest hiatus in tornadic activity. The grand total for the first three months of the year is also at a historic low.
The Climate Prediction Center puts our area at a 40 percent chance of a colder than normal April, with precipitation levels to be in the normal range. On the downside, that could mean snowflakes. On the upside though, strong thunderstorms, they type that produce tornadoes, do not like cold air at the surface. If a delay in breaking out the Bermuda shorts is the price to pay for stunting the growth of severe thunderstorms, this ol’ boy is all in.
Timothy Kays can be reached at
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