March 2019 Tamer than 2018

Posted: April 1, 2019, 8:49 am by chewitt

Unlike last year’s quadruple punch of storms, this March by comparison was much tamer to say the least. It did indeed came in like a lion with a legitimate coastal storm but quickly calmed out to a smoother and seasonable pattern by the second half of the month. Most I-95 cities actually had a snowier than normal month (by double for some) but seasonal totals ended around or below average.

As alluded, March began with a series of systems, the first of which was a weak disturbance that put down just a few inches of snow from northern Maryland through the Hudson Valley in New York on the 1st. This was quickly followed by a similar system the next day, that instead brought a wintry mix, only to be followed by a much more powerful storm on the 3rd-4th. This was a heavy snow event for sure as it left a wide swath of 6 – 12 inches from the Mason-Dixon Line through southern New Hampshire thanks to hourly snowfall rates of an inch or more. Northeastern Connecticut through Boston were the hardest hit as localized amounts of up to 18” were measured!

After the snow on March 4th at the state house in Providence, RI.
 

High pressure quickly ushered in less active weather afterwards, although a series of overnight squalls affected the northwestern elevations on the 5th-6th. Additional showers associated with a cold front again affected the interior Northeast the next night which reinforced the cooler weather. Accordingly, temperatures dropped 10 to 15 degrees below the norm, and while it was quiet elsewhere, a sneaky disturbance on the 8th brought a quick 1 to 2 inches across interior Virginia up to around Washington, D.C. Consequently, early morning lows on the 9th fell into the teens and single digits, which actually broke a record in Hartford, CT as the low bottomed out at 9 degrees.

Quiet conditions ensued until a warm front on the 10th (associated with a robust low over the Midwest) brought a wintry mix to rain event. Areas north of I-78 in PA and NJ felt the brunt of it with a general 2-4” across the northern Hudson Valley into northern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Beyond this, additional snow shower type of events were confined north and west of the I-95 corridor. High pressure once again took over after that, and briefly cooled the region back to near seasonable levels.

A return flow over the eastern seaboard then granted a warmup across the whole Northeast, giving short-lived but pleasant taste of spring. Temperatures peaked into the 60s and even 70s on the 15th! Hartford, CT once again broke a record as the thermometer hit 63 degrees. While some were hoping for this to be a sign of winter’s end, a front swiftly swept the warm air out. In fact, a robust line of storms quickly developed inland the same evening, which even by March standards was impressive enough to result in scattered wind damage from Maryland into New York. Even hail the size of quarters to a half dollar were reported!

The interim was rather calm with near seasonable weather, until a storm system moving up from the Carolina’s met with a front to our west on the 22nd. This was essentially a rainmaker to start as a general 0.50-1.50” of rain fell across the area. However, northern Maryland and central PA saw much closer to 2.00-3.00”. Washington, D.C. in particular, broke its daily record rainfall at 1.96” while York, PA recorded 2.55”! Beyond the rain, the other half of the story was further north where colder air rushing in caused rain to flip to snow overnight. Marginal temperatures made this a very elevation dependent event across New York and New England. This was most obviously observed in Connecticut where the CT River Valley received very little accumulation while the hills of Tolland County saw 7-9”.

Snowy scene in New Ashford, MA on the 22nd.
 

Overall, the month ended close to seasonable or at most 1 or 2 degrees below the norm for the region. As for precipitation, the Mid-Atlantic was able to see almost an inch of surplus due to the heavy rainfall on the 22nd, but it missed New England and led to drier than normal conditions. This had a myriad of effects on seasonal snowfall but generally left the major cities short of their current seasonal normal except for Hartford, CT, and Washington, D.C, both of which received an additional 1-2” above their respective averages.

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