Spring? Are You There?!

Posted: April 8, 2018, 12:00 am by chewitt

What a tease February was in its final week when temperatures soared into the 60s and 70s across the entire Northeast! As we know now though, the party did not last long as winter came roaring back for seconds not even a week into the month of March. For those hoping for a smooth transition into spring, well, the pattern just was not your friend.

Right off the bat, a storm worked in from the Midwest which was largely a rain & snow event for the interior Northeast. Accumulations from this were quite dense and resulted in a heavy wet snow that stuck to almost everything. Snowfall amounts were also extremely elevation dependent, with some valley locations seeing little to no snow while over a foot fell along the ridges. However, what really made this storm rather memorable was that it featured unusually high winds well over 40 to 50 mph, even across inland locations! Many towns dealt with numerous power outages, almost to the level of Hurricane Sandy in spots.


Trees fallen nearby Philadelphia on March 6th, many of which resulted in massive power outages across the Northeast


A trough established itself across the region following that system, which would then trigger several more nor’easters. This also led to a cold pattern that lasted through pretty much the entire month, leaving us with temperatures that averaged 5 to 10 degrees below normal. Next in line on the train of storms was a second coastal on March 6th and 7th, which led the highest amounts seen throughout all of the events. Eastern Pennsylvania through New England received a widespread 6-12” of snowfall. However, higher elevations in the Hudson Valley through northern New Jersey received nearly 2.5 feet of snow as very heavy bands of snow parked themselves for several hours, leading to 2-4” per hour rates of snowfall!

But wait, there’s more. Our third nor’easter rolled in from the southeast on March 12th and 13th. Most of the accumulations were light outside of New England with even Virginia picking up several inches of snow. It sure did not waste any of the heavy snow though as parts of eastern MA, CT, RI and even the Twin Forks of Long Island were crushed with near or over 2 feet of snow. Reinforcing cold air over the new few days marked the coldest of the cold stretch as temperatures fell 10 to 15 degrees below normal. New England bottomed out in the teens on the 18th while parts of the Mid-Atlantic, including Maryland, did not even escape the 30s on the 20th.

Speaking of March 20th, that date happened to also coincide with the final nor’easter. This one was actually the most complex of the four as the first half of the event was actually a frontal wave that surged in from the southeast. It left several inches of sleet, snow, and even up to a tenth of ice in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, especially across Maryland and Delaware. Interior areas such as out near Hagerstown, MD and Harrisburg, PA received over 6” of snowfall, but much of the wave dissipated overnight into the 21st and gave way to the coastal system…on the first day of astronomical spring.

The fourth storm developed over the Ohio River valley before strengthening off the coast. This left up to 6-12” for most, with over a foot in the elevations of PA and NJ. The winner of the storm, however, ended up being in the middle of Suffolk County on Long Island which accumulated a bit over a foot in a matter of hours. In fact, the band that sat over Islip, NY resulted in incredible snowfall rates up to 5” per hour! Maryland, after a rather lackluster winter up until this point, also received 6-9” of snow. 

Meanwhile, in New England, dry air ate up most precipitation and was largely spared from any significant snowfall.




The four March nor'easters in one animated image (press play above to view)


After this tumultuous beginning to “spring”, temperatures finally moderated close to seasonable to close out the month. Overall though, temperatures averaged roughly 2 to 4 degrees below normal. Maryland and Virginia actually ended up even colder, with 6 to 8 degree departures. In terms of precipitation, it was quite variable with the Mid-Atlantic seeing large deficits and coastal regions from New Jersey through Massachusetts seeing a surplus (which was in part thanks to a large amount of snowfall in these spots). 

Despite us now moving into April, winter seems to still want to hang around unfortunately. Stay tuned!

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