Midwest Weekly Highlights - March 1-10, 2013
March Comes in Like a Lion
The saying "March comes in like a lion" held true for the first ten days of March this year. Temperatures were unseasonably cold and a large winter storm brought several inches of snowfall across the region within the first few days of the month.
A low pressure system made its way across the Midwest on March 4th and 5th (Figure 1), bringing several inches of snowfall to many parts of the region (Figure 2). On the 4th, portions of Minnesota received 6" to 10" and on the 5th, the system brought snowfall further south, with 6" to 10" being reported in southern Wisconsin, across the Chicago region, and into Indiana and parts of eastern Ohio. This widespread event brought snowfall to the region that was 2" to 10" above normal for this time of year (Figure 3). The official tally at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (Cook County) was 9.2", which is the most snow to hit the Chicago area since the record-breaking 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard.
Another storm system (Figure 4) brought 6" to 12" of snowfall to Iowa, southern Minnesota, and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan on March 10th (Figure 5). After these two snow events on the 4th/5th and the 10th, snow depths were significant in the northern Midwest (18" to 30" still reported in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan), while much of the snow further south had melted by the end of the 10 day period (Figure 6).
Total precipitation during the first 10 days of the month was above average in the northwest portions of the region and near to below average elsewhere (Figure 7). Precipitation values ranged from no precipitation in eastern Michigan to 1.5" to 2" in southern Minnesota, portions of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and southern Kentucky (Figure 8). Just under 300 daily precipitation records were set during the first ten days of the month and snowfall records were just under 290. Several locations tied or broke their monthly snowfall record for highest snowfall in March.
Unseasonably Cool Temperatures
Average temperatures were unseasonably cool throughout the region during the first 10 days of the month (Figure 9). The greatest departures of 6°F to 7°F below normal were found in portions of Iowa, Missouri, and southern Kentucky. Much of the region was at least 2°F below normal for this time of year. Maximum temperatures were 9°F to 10°F below average in northern Missouri and southern Kentucky (Figure 10). A handful of daily temperature records were set, with a majority being record lows during the first 9 days and some record highs on the 10th.
The cooler than normal weather to kick off March 2013 was much different than it was at this time last year. March 2012 started out warmer than normal and proceeded to become the warmest March on record for locations across the Midwest. The latest outlooks from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (Figure 11) indicates equal chances for above, below, or near normal temperatures for parts of the Midwest over the next couple of weeks, while a large portion of the region has a greater chance for the below normal temperatures to continue. Therefore, it appears as though this March may continue to be much different for the Midwest region than the record-breaking March of last year.
Over the next few weeks, we will see if March 2013 continues to hold true to the popular saying, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb".