March 2019 Weather Review

Here is the March review & top 5 events of the month.

Posted: Apr 1, 2019 8:58 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2019 10:45 PM

March 2019 was cooler, wetter & a bit snowier than normal.

WLFI-TV, West Lafayette:

1.  Early March 2019 Historic Cold

Parhelic circle from falling ice crystals on the morning of March 4 near Burnettsville is below.  Photo courtesy of Katy Smith.

When it gets record cold winter to early spring (below 0), these stratocumulus clouds immediately produce falling ice crystals as the cold air cannot hold the moisture. That moisture is released as falling ice crystals in the form of snow with sunshine

The crystals refract sunlight & produce parhelic circles, halos, arcs & parhelias (sun dogs). What optical phenomena seen is based on the shape of the crystals & how they are oriented toward the sunlight.

Snowfall March 3:

Ensuing cold..................snow & sleet to the Gulf Coast March 4!

Hard freezes to northern Mexico & the Gulf Coast with warnings up on the evening of March 4.

Our temperatures & minimum wind chills:

It was the coldest March 4 morning since 1884 & the coldest March afternoon on record.

The high of 10 at the Ag Farm was the coldest high temperature on record for the month of March with records back to 1879. The Purdue Airport reached 11, however, as did the television station.

What makes it extraordinary is that the high of 11 records of March 1 & 6, 1960 occurred with up to 12" of snow on the ground. Our high of 10 occurred with just 1".

On a side night, that March 1960 snow depth peaked at 16" on March 10 & didn't completely melt until March 28. Huge snow piles in parking lots lasted well into April.

Cold continued to March 5 with wind chills as low as -12 in the viewing area in the morning hours.

It was the coldest March 5 morning since 2002 (3 degrees). We missed the 1978 record (-4) by 10 degrees, however.

The afternoon high of 20 was the coldest high for March 5 since 2015 (19), but that 2015 high ranked in the top 5 coldest daily highs back to 1879.

Blowing snow & flurries/snow showers accompanied the cold with gusty west winds.

Snow fell as far south as South Carolina on the morning March 5. Up to 2" fell in southeastern North Carolina.

Hard Freeze Warnings were widespread on March 5 for the night-time hours to early morning hours of March 6.

2.  March 14, 2019 Plains Bomb Cyclone Wind, Dust, T'Storms, Warmest Weather Since October & Some Snow

Check out the Plains dust blowing in from the historic Plains "bomb" mid-latitude cyclone. This was dust thousands of feet up blowing from this historic high wind event that spread a massive dust storm originating in New Mexico, Texas & Oklahoma.

Severe weather outbreaks occurred northwest & southeast of the viewing area with nearly 50 tornadoes!

We saw pea hail near Brook, Roselawn & Brookston with nickel hail near Russiaville reported from two lines of storms moving through the area. One passed in the late morning-midday & the other occurred in the northwest early to mid-afternoon.

I always go through severe weather reports & wind reports with a fine tooth comb & looking at the wind graph from the Kentland Airport, it appears that the 58 mph gust occurred just prior to the t'storm. So, I have changed it from "t'storm gust" to "non-t'storm gust".

It was the warmest day since October 10! That shows you though how cold October & November were with all of those snow events we had with some of the earliest snowfall in October since 1906. It has been a long, long winter! It all started October 11, really!

We saw two main rounds of high winds in a 20-hour period.

The first round downed steel beams of an engineering lab building under construction 1 mile west of Purdue.

The second round brought a some more limbs down with of gusts of 40-58 mph over the area.

Then there was snow......................with a quick 35- to 40-degree temperature drop.

3.  March 9-10, 2019 Wind Event

In a winter & early spring of many damaging wind events, another one struck March 9-10 as very deep surface low pivoted through Missouri to northwestern Illinois to Wisconsin.

4.  March 30, 2019 Snowfall

This snowfall occurred as multiple waves of rainfall passed March 28-30 with 1.5-3.30"rainfall reported, ending a nice dry spell with the finest stretch of weather since October.  This dry spell resulted in some early field work being done & some gardens of cool season crops being planted.

The end of the last round of rain saw cold air come in, bringing a transition to snow. 

It was heaviest in our southeastern areas where moderate to heavy snowfall occurred for a while & accumulated up to 2.5".

Picture from Heather Wheeberhardt southeast of Lafayette on the morning after the snowfall:

5.  St. Patrick's Day Snowfall

A late-season Alberta clipper brought up to 3.1" of snow to the viewing area morning to midday March 17.

Cheryl Marquess, Fowler:

From Jean Kerby:

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