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March 2021 National Weather Summary

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James Munley

Apr 21, 2021, 11:20:53 AM4/21/21
MARCH 2020

1-6: Heavy rain, which had begun in late February, continued into early March across portions of the interior Southeast. Moderate to major flooding developed in parts of Kentucky, including along the Kentucky and Green Rivers, while generally minor flooding affected a much larger area from northeastern Texas into the Ohio Valley.
Spotty precipitation affected a few areas, including the central Plains and the Pacific Northwest, but mostly dry weather prevailed across the remainder of the western and central U.S. Mild weather persisted across Florida’s peninsula and continued through a second week in the north-central U.S., but many other parts of the country experienced near- or below-normal temperatures. Cold, windy weather developed across the Northeast, where weekly readings in several locations averaged more than 5°F below normal. Farther west, however, temperatures averaged at least 10 to 15°F above normal in much of Montana, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, as well as portions of neighboring states. As temperatures rose across the nation’s mid-section and any remaining snow disappeared, concerns in droughtaffected areas mounted that soil moisture shortages could stress winter wheat breaking dormancy. In addition, moisture could be limited, barring a pattern change, for soon-to-be-sown summer crops. Early-week Southeastern temperatures surged in advance of a storm system and its attendant cold front. The 28th was the warmest February day on record in locations such as Augusta, GA (88°F), and Columbia, SC (86°F). Elsewhere on February 28, daily-record highs included 88°F in Lakeland, FL; 85°F in Vicksburg, MS; and 84°F in Tuscaloosa, AL. Record-setting warmth lingered across Florida through March 1, when Lakeland posted another high of 88°F. In contrast, chilly air briefly settled across the West. March opened with daily-record lows in Western locations such as Winslow, AZ (7°F), and Lancaster, CA (18°F). Meanwhile, consistent warmth developed across the northern Plains. In South Dakota, Mobridge notched consecutive dailyrecord highs (68 and 70°F, respectively) on March 3-4. The warmth significantly reduced coverage of Midwestern snow. In Illinois, Moline reported the end of its fifth-longest stretch (62 days, from December 30, 2020 – March 2, 2021) with at least an inch of snow on the ground at daybreak—and the longest such streak in that location since 2000-2001. Late in the week, warmth also developed across the Northwest and Intermountain West. On March 5, daily-record highs surged to 76°F in Hermiston, OR, and 75°F in Kennewick, WA. March 6 featured daily-record highs in locations such as Salt Lake City, UT (70°F), and Lander, WY (64°F).

7-13: Mostly dry weather prevailed throughout the week across the Gulf and Atlantic Coast States. Elsewhere, the passage of the two storms maintained cool, showery weather from the Pacific Coast into the Great Basin and Intermountain West. However, precipitation mostly bypassed the interior Northwest. Weekly temperatures averaged more than 5°F below normal in parts of California and Nevada—but were more than 5°F above normal in a large area covering the Plains, Midwest, mid-South, and Northeast. Readings averaged at least 10 to 15°F above normal throughout the upper Midwest. Early in the week, record-setting warmth covered the northern Plains and upper Midwest. On March 7-8, Mobridge, SD, opened the week with consecutive dailyrecord highs (64 and 65°F, respectively). Similarly, consecutive daily-record highs occurred on March 8-9 in locations such as Fargo, ND (57 and 65°F), and Aberdeen, SD (65 and 69°F). Highs soared to record-setting levels for March 9 in dozens of other communities, including North Platte, NE (81°F); Mitchell, SD (78°F); Kansas City, MO (77°F); Sioux City, IA (73°F), and Peoria, IL(71°F). North Platte last topped the 80-degree mark during March in 2017, when it was 90°F on March 19. In a final push of Midwestern warmth on March 9-10, Des Moines, IA (72 and 75°F), and Toledo, OH (68 and 72°F), logged a pair of daily-record highs. By March 11, warm weather shifted into the East; among the records for the date were highs of 79°F in Washington, DC; 77°F in Reading, PA; 75°F in Newark, NJ; and 74°F in Boston, MA. In contrast, a developing storm system helped to draw cold air into the West. By March 13, a daily-record low of -3°F was established at Utah’s Bryce Canyon Airport.

14-20: generally dry weather prevailed across the nation’s northern and southern tiers, as drought continued to intensify across portions of the northern Plains and from the Desert Southwest into the Rio Grande Valley. With the primary storm track displaced southward across the western and central U.S., cool weather was most prominent along the Pacific Coast and from the Desert Southwest to the central and southern High Plains. Weekly temperatures averaged 5 to 10°F below normal in snow-covered sections of the High Plains. Meanwhile, cold air swept into the Northeast, with the greatest intensity across northern New England. Weekly readings averaged more than 5°F below normal in large sections of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In contrast, unusual warmth prevailed along the Canadian border from Montana to Minnesota, where temperatures averaged 10 to 15°F above normal. Warmth (more than 5°F above normal in many locations) was also prevalent in the Southeast.

A mid-month surge of cool air into California resulted in dailyrecord lows for March 16 in locations such as Alturas (6°F), Paso Robles (30°F), and Stockton (31°F). By March 17, daily-record lows in Arizona included 26°F in Nogales and 27°F in Safford. Meanwhile, warmth intensified across the Deep South from southern Texas to Florida. In Texas, record-setting highs for March 17 soared to 95°F in McAllen and 91°F in Corpus Christi. Fort Pierce, FL, collected consecutive daily record-tying highs (88 and 90°F, respectively) on March 17-18. Elsewhere in Florida, Melbourne notched a daily-record high of 91°F on March 18. The last time Melbourne topped the 90-degree mark in March was 2013, when the high reached 91°F on March 24. Late in the week, recordsetting warmth developed across the northern Plains. With a high of 76°F on the 19th, Glasgow, MT, exceeded the 75-degree mark in March for the first time since March 24, 2007. On March 20, dailyrecord highs soared to 68°F in Jamestown, ND, and 65°F in Sisseton, SD.

21-27: Late-week flooding in central Tennessee and other areas of the interior Southeast capped a week of active weather. Earlier, on March 24-25, severe thunderstorms had swept across the South, spawning a few dozen tornadoes—and resulting in at least six tornado-related fatalities. Combined, the two Southeastern storm systems contributed to fieldwork delays and pockets of lowland flooding. However, most of the rain bypassed the southern Atlantic region, including Florida’s peninsula. Similarly, precipitation dampened much of the Corn Belt, but did not reach into the far upper Midwest.

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