Record Breaking Cold March

March 2013 was almost a complete turnaround from March 2012 across the region, and most dramatically across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. This March was in the top ten coldest on record for locations across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. In fact, Sisseton had their coldest March on record with an overall average temperature of 18.2 degrees. Wheaton, Minnesota had their second coldest March with an average of 16.7 degrees. These average temperatures were dramatically different from last March where the average temperature at Sisseton was 42.9 degrees and Wheaton was 41.0 degrees, with both being the all-time record warmest. Aberdeen and Watertown had their 2nd warmest March on record in 2012 with 43.8 and 43.9 degrees respectively, while March 2013 at Aberdeen and Watertown were the 7th and 8th coldest on record with 19.8 and 20.2 degrees, respectively.    The average high for Aberdeen in March 2012 was 57.9 degrees which was over 27 degrees warmer than the 30.5 degree average high for this March. Departures from normal for this March were large, ranging from 9 to 12 degrees below normal for locations across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota.  Locations across central and north central South Dakota also had cold temperatures for March, ranging from 4 to 6 degrees below normal. Even more interesting was that March 2011 was one of the top ten coldest on record for several locations across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. For example, Sisseton went from the 4th coldest in 2011, with 21.4 degrees to the all-time warmest, with 42.9 degrees in 2012, and back to the first coldest to 18.2 degrees in 2013.

Along with the predominant Arctic and Canadian air, the deep snow cover across the eastern part of the region played a significant role in the record cold for the month. Snow cover reflects much of the sunlight during the day, along with absorbing energy from the air for melting, while radiating energy well at night. The highest and lowest temperatures for the month demonstrate this well. The snow covered areas of the east had their warmest highs only in the 40s and lower 50s, while the mainly bare ground areas of central and north central South Dakota had highs in the upper 60s to the lower 70s.  The lows for March ranged from 6 below to 10 below in the east with 2 below to 3 above in the west. As for precipitation, March was generally drier than normal across the region, ranging from a tenth of an inch above to over an inch below normal.  Wheaton was the only one with above normal snowfall for March with 10.2 inches.

Areas east of James Valley had the brunt of the winter weather for March with an ice storm and blizzard. The March 8th and 9th ice storm produced anywhere from a quarter to a half inch of ice across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. Fortunately, temperatures were right around freezing or rose to above freezing during the event, as total precipitation amounts were from a half inch to over an inch for several locations. If the temperatures would have been a few degrees colder with the north winds picking up, things could have been much worse with heavy ice accumulations on trees and power lines. The March 17th and 18th blizzard also affected the eastern part of the region with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph and 1 to 3 inches of new snowfall bringing frequent whiteout conditions.

MARCH 2013
Temperature Data
Aberdeen
Sisseton
Wheaton
Watertown
Warmest Temperature / Date
47 / 14th
40 / 29th
42 / 30th
52 / 29th
Coldest Temperature / Date
-8 / 13th
-10 / 21st
-6 / 22nd
-7 / 21st
Average High / Departure from Normal
30.5 / -9.5
27.5 / -11.8
26.4 / -10.4
29.1 / -9.8
Average Low / Departure from Normal
9.0 / -10.8
8.9 / -11.9
7.0 / -11.0
11.4 / -8.5
Monthly Average / Departure from Normal
19.8 / -10.1
18.2 / -11.8
16.7 / -10.7
20.2 / -9.2
Precipitation Data
Monthly Precipitation / Departure from Normal
0.24 / -0.92
0.97 / -0.15
1.55 / +0.07
1.21 / +0.10
Monthly Snowfall / Departure from Normal
1.9 / -5.3
5.4 / -2.9
10.2 / +1.9
5.6 / -0.6
Most Precipitation in 24 hours / Date
0.10 / 3rd
0.35 / 9th
0.60 / 9th
0.67 / 9th
Most Snow in 24 hours / Date
0.4 / 4th
2.2 / 9th
4.3 / 10th
4.0 / 9th
Temperature Data
Pierre
Kennebec
Mobridge
Timber Lake
Warmest Temperature / Date
72 / 29th
73 / 29th
71 / 14th
69 / 14th
Coldest Temperature / Date
3 / 20th
2 / 11th
-2 / 20th
0 / 20th
Average High / Departure from Normal
41.5 / -3.9
43.8 / -4.1
37.3 / -5.3
41.0 / -2.2
Average Low / Departure from Normal
17.1 / -6.4
17.4 / -6.0
14.3 / -6.8
15.8 / -5.7
Monthly Average / Departure from Normal
29.3 / -5.1
30.6 / -5.1
25.8 / -6.1
28.4 / -4.0
Precipitation Data
Monthly Precipitation / Departure from Normal
0.15 / -1.08
0.78 / -0.48
0.38 / -0.52
0.58 / -0.57
Monthly Snowfall / Departure from Normal
3.0 / -3.0
8.0 / 0.0
4.7 / -1.2
7.1 / -0.5
Most Precipitation in 24 hours / Date
0.15 / 22nd
0.63 / 9th
0.13 / 22nd
0.25 / 22nd
Most Snow in 24 hours / Date
2.8 / 22nd
6.0 / 9th
2.9 / 22nd
2.1 / 22nd



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