It was March misery in frigid northern, eastern USA – USA TODAY
Many parts of the northern and eastern USA took a serious chill pill in March, and several places probably will record one of their 10 coldest Marches.
“Several cities in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and northern New England are flirting with a top 10 coldest March,” says Weather Channel meteorologist Chris Dolce. “It’s a huge turnaround from two years ago in March 2012, when many of these same cities saw their warmest March on record.”
Dolce reports that Burlington, Vt., and Caribou, Maine, are seeing their coldest March since weather records began. (Burlington’s weather records began in 1884 and Caribou’s in 1939, according to the National Weather Service.)
Despite what happens in the final days of the month, both cities are likely to see top 10 coldest Marches.
Other cities that have been unusually frigid in March include Green Bay, Wis. (fourth coldest), Buffalo (fourth), Detroit (sixth) and Chicago (eighth). Most of those cities should remain in the top 10 regardless of temperatures this weekend.
Nationally, according to data from the National Climatic Data Center, 2,071 record low temperatures have been set this month, compared with 242 record high temperatures.
March also has been snowier than average in several locations, including Northern Virginia’s Dulles International Airport, which recorded its snowiest winter since records began in 1963. Detroit has seen more than a foot of snow in March, almost double the average.
While the central and eastern USA has been shivering, cities in the Southwest are enjoying an unusually warm month, the weather service reports. Tucson is having its sixth-warmest March (records date to 1895), and Las Vegas is having its seventh warmest (data date to 1937).
March continued a season-long pattern — the frigid central and eastern USA and the mild West. The reason: a persistent ridge of high pressure over the western half of the USA balanced by a trough of low pressure in the East.
“This winter, there was a big blocking ridge of high pressure in the western U.S., all the way up into Canada, and that redirected the flow of the jet stream and allowed that very cold air to come down into the Midwest and Northeast.,” Weather Channel meteorologist Carl Parker says.
High pressure usually brings clear skies; low pressure brings clouds and precipitation.
Some good news about the chilly March has been the lack of severe storms, including tornadoes. Through the first three weeks of the month, the USA saw four tornadoes, one of the lowest marks on record.
Final March weather data for individual cities will be available Tuesday. Data for states and the nation as a whole will be out in mid-April.