March 2019 Extreme Weather

Each month we scour the continental U.S. looking for the warmest, coldest, wettest, snowiest, sunniest and cloudiest locations. Did your town make the list this month? Let’s find out…

Author’s note: You’re probably thinking: Hey Shane, it’s already the end of April, why are we just getting this now? Well, yours truly was off getting married at the start of the month! So apologies for the tardiness of this article; I promise I won’t get married again!

Warmest City (compared to average)

When your warmest city for the month only managed to reach four degrees above average, odds are you had a rather cool month. This was certainly the case in March as warm spots were few and far between (more on that later). For our warmest spot, Gainesville, Florida, it was the 33rd warmest March on record – really nothing worth writing home about. The majority of the month saw above average temperatures, but no records were set, nor did they see any prolonged stretches of abnormally warm weather. What they did manage were two days where the mercury climbed to an impressive 88 degrees, a temperature which is far more common in May and June rather than March. It was also significantly drier than normal, as March would end nearly two and a half inches below average.

If we happen to fly out of the contiguous US, though, we would find a bastion of warmth in our 49th state, Alaska. Every single major observation station in the state ended the month of March with above average temperatures. Thirteen of those stations were at least 10 degrees above their long term averages. The warmest was the town of Kotzebue, which finishes a whopping 22 degrees above average. It would be their warmest March on record — a feat that eleven other cities in Alaska would also set this month. So a special shout out to Alaska for being really warm while the rest of us were not.

Coldest City (compared to average)

Conversely, there were quite a few places where it was cold this March. The coldest of them would finish close to 20 degrees below their long term average and have their coldest March on record. Say hello to the town of Bozeman, Montana. It was really stinkin’ cold in Bozeman this past March. Every day saw temperatures that were below average. Twenty-two days were at least 10 degrees below average. Eleven days were at least 20 degrees below average. Four days were at least 30 degrees below average. Three days were at least 40 degrees below average. And if you can believe it, two days finished north of 50 degrees below average! The temperature went below freezing at some point every single day during the month. This includes a twelve day stretch where the temperature stayed below freezing the entire time. Eleven days saw temperatures dip below freezing making for the third most in any March. A brand new all-time coldest March high temperature was set at a frigid -5 degrees. If that wasn’t bad enough, a brand new all-time coldest March low temperature was also set at a bone-chilling -39 degrees! In all, Bozeman would see three new cold high temperature records and another three new low temperature records. Needless to say, there was no thaw or spring preview this March in Montana.

Aside from Alaska, there wasn’t a whole lot of warmth to speak of this month across the US. Instead, cold dominated coast to coast with close to 100 cities seeing one of their top 10 coldest Marchs on record.

Over three quarters of the US would see below average temperatures this month making for the first time in over two years that this large of a majority of cities would end the month colder than average.

Wettest City

Much like the warmth, wet weather was also particularly absent this March. For example, our wettest city would only set their 17th wettest March on record. The wettest spot in the US this month was the town of Redding, California. Seventeen days with measurable rainfall would total a little less than nine and a half inches of rain. Two days of the month were abnormally soggy; each seeing at least an inch of rain. No monthly or daily rainfall records would be set or broken.

For the first time in a long time the number of abnormally dry cities far outweighs the number of wet cities. While 73 cities would be able to crack into their top 10 wettest Marchs on record, close to 200 would see one of their top 10 driest.

About two-thirds of the US would end the month with below average rainfall for the month. It has certainly been a while since we could say that!

Severe Superlatives

In what would be one of the most active months of March for tornadoes going back to 1950, 2019 not only saw 127% of its monthly average tornado activity, but also the nation’s first violent tornado since April 2017. Tornadoes would spawn in 17 states with over 70 of those occurring in the states of Alabama and Georgia (38 and 37 respectively). Texas would round out the top three with 11. Six active severe days would produce 714 reports on their own (that’s tornadoes, large hail, and damaging wind). The busiest day was March 14th which saw 237 reports (38 tornadoes, 143 wind, and 56 large hail).

Beauregard, Alabama would be the site of the strongest tornado in March. Not only was this the first violent tornado in almost two years in the US, but it was also the deadliest since the Moore tornado of 2013. It was the first deadly tornado in Lee County since 1875. This tornado was on the ground for almost 69 miles with a peak width of 1600 yards (16 football fields, or a little less than a mile).

We’ve got citrus, folks! McKinney, Texas saw grapefruit sized hail on the 24th.

The same storm that produced an EF-2 tornado that went through Cairo, Georgia also clocked a wind gust of 102 MPH. This was part of a wild day of storms that stretch across the southeast US on the 3rd.

Snowiest City

Seeing how dry it was coast to coast this March, it’s no surprise that our snowiest city – much like our wettest city – isn’t exactly extreme. Our snowiest city, Casper, Wyoming, would see their 5th snowiest March on record at 27.4 inches. Measurable snow would fall on 10 days of the month. Two impactful winter storms would hit the region during March. The first, Winter Storm Taylor, would drop seven inches of snow over two days. Just a week later, Winter Storm Ulmer would produce nearly 15 inches and make for the second snowiest March day in Casper history. Two new daily snowfall records would be set this month.

As winter begins its slow decent into spring, so do our chances to see widespread large snowfalls. Michigan leads the way with three of our top five snowiest cities this year, including Marquette with an impressive 221.7 inches! Perennial lake-effect boom town Buffalo rounds out the top five with 118.7 inches.

Sunniest City (average % of sky cover)

To the Sonoran Desert we go to, maybe not surprisingly, find out sunniest city in the US this March. Nestled out there in the middle of nowhere is the California oasis town of Blythe. March 2019 in Blythe was particularly sunny with 23 cloud-free days to boot. Only three days of the month saw enough cloud cover to be considered slightly less than sunny, and four days would be active enough to make for some measurable rainfall. Blythe would still end the month below average for rainfall. The sunniest time of the year in Blythe is on the other end of the calendar in November.

Cloudiest City (average % of sky cover)

And then there’s poor Corpus Christi, Texas. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico can be a boon and a bust, it just depends on which way the wind is blowing. This past March, the pattern was such that the average wind direction on 21 of March’s 31 days was directly off the water. This led to twenty-two mostly cloudy or worse days including 11 days that were completely overcast. While it was super cloudy, it wasn’t all that wet. Just nine days of measurable rainfall would produce 0.87 inches of rain. We are just now starting to head into coastal Texas’ cloudiest time of the year which peaks right around July.

There you have it, the extremes for the month that was March 2019. Make sure to check back next month to see what April has in store!

What weather extremes did you face in March where you live? Let me know in the comments below.