March 3-5, 2019: Snow & Record March Cold Wave

Record cold followed snow to begin March.

Posted: Mar 4, 2019 9:03 PM
Updated: Mar 5, 2019 9:45 PM

Parhelic circle from falling ice crystals on the morning of March 4 near Burnettsville.  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 & 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.

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Dry and Cool for Remainder of Weekend.
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