March 2010 Recap

 Record Setting!

Northern Michiganders, we have just experienced one historic month, and to many, probably in a spectacular way.  Persistent high pressure centered over the Northern Lakes through the month brought with it unprecedented amounts of early spring sunshine, remarkably persistent dry weather, and unusually warm March temperatures.  While meteorologically speaking, March signals the start of spring, residents of the majestic north woods know otherwise, with March often resembling the dead of winter.  This Month was likely heralded as a well earned reprieve by most, especially considering the past couple cold, exceptionally snowy winters. However, and unfortunately, March continued the persistent dry pattern that first became established the second half of December.  This, combined with an early melt to this winters record setting low snow pack, has quickly parched the Northern Michigan landscape, bringing with it rapidly increasing fire weather concerns and serious worries to the agriculture industries.  Latest data out of the U.S. drought monitor has all of Northern Michigan in abnormally dry and developing drought conditions.

 

Persistent warm anomalies remained centered over the upper Great Lakes through the month, resulting in monthly mean temperature readings of at least 7 to 10 degrees above normal across all of Northern Michigan, with a few locations exceeding 10 degrees above normal.  These unprecedented departures from normal resulted in all our selected sites below recording one of their top 5 warmest March's on record, with Sault Ste Marie easily surpassing their previous warmest March to set a new record.

 

      March Average Temperature Data:

Sault Ste Marie (1888 - Present)

Mean

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Warm/Year

Record Cold/Year

 37.6

 24.9

+12.7 

 Warmest

 / 2010

13.8 / 1923 

 

Houghton Lake (1917 - Present)

Mean

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Warm/Year

Record Cold/Year

37.1 

 29.3

 +7.8

5th Warmest

 42.0 / 1945

 20.4 / 1923

 

Alpena (1917 - Present)

Mean

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Warm/Year

Record Cold/Year

 35.6

 28.0

 +7.6

 5th Warmest

 39.7 / 1946

 17.3 / 1960

 

Traverse City (1896 - Present)

Mean

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Warm/Year

Record Cold/Year

 37.8

 30.7

 +7.1

 5th Warmest

 41.5 / 1946

 20.8 / 1960

 

Gaylord (1952 - Present)

Mean

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Warm/Year

Record Cold/Year

 36.2

 28.9

+7.3 

3rd Warmest 

 39.3 / 1973

 19.4 / 1960

 

The exceptionally dry weather continued unabated from this past winter season, with all locations experiencing near record setting dryness for the month.  This, combined with the dry late winter conditions, has resulted in staggering yearly precipitation deficits, with all areas at least several inches below normal.

 

  March Precipitation Data:

Sault Ste Marie (1888 - Present)

Precipitation

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Wettest/Year

Record Driest/Year

 0.14

 2.41

 -2.27

2nd Driest 

 4.97 / 1976

 0.09 / 1915

 

Houghton Lake (1917 - Present)

Precipitation

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Wettest/Year

Record Driest/Year

 0.65

 2.05

 -1.40

6th Driest 

 5.67 / 1976

0.19 / 2001 

 

Alpena (1917 - Present)

Precipitation

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Wettest/Year

Record Driest/Year

 0.43

 2.13

 -1.70

 4th Driest

7.37 / 1998 

 0.32 / 1958

 

Traverse City (1896 - Present)

Precipitation

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Wettest/Year

Record Driest/Year

 0.42

 1.98

 -1.56

Tied 7th Driest 

 7.28 / 1998

 0.15 / 1999

 

Gaylord (1952 - Present)

Precipitation

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Wettest/Year

Record Driest/Year

 0.15

 2.53

 -2.38

 Driest

 6.20 / 1998

 0.15 / 2010

 

Snow?  What snow?  For a month still considered winter by many and averaging double digits in snowfall, this month was anything but, with just trace amounts of snow reported across Northern Michigan.  As the tables below show, this month was easily the least snowy March on record, with Traverse City reporting no snow at all for the month.  Truly historic times!!! 

March Snowfall Data:

Sault Ste Marie (1888 - Present)

Snowfall

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Snowiest/Year

Record Least Snow/Year

Trace

 15.0

-15.0 

Least Snowy

 34.7 / 1964

 Trace / 2010

 

Houghton Lake (1917 - Present)

Snowfall

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Snowiest/Year

Record Least Snow/Year

 Trace

 10.1

 -10.1

Least Snowy 

 43.5 / 1923

 Trace / 2010

 

Alpena (1917 - Present)

Snowfall

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Snowiest/Year

Record Least Snow/Year

 Trace

12.9 

 -12.9

 Least Snowy

 49.4 / 1926

 Trace / 2010

 

Traverse City (1896 - Present)

Snowfall

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Snowiest/Year

Record Least Snow/Year

 0.0

 10.3

-10.3 

Least Snowy 

 44.0 / 1923

 0.0 / 2010

 

Gaylord (1952 - Present)

Snowfall

Average

Departure

Ranking*

Record Snowiest/Year

Record Least Snow/Year

 Trace

 18.4

-18.4 

 Least Snowy

 47.5 / 1955

 Trace / 2010

 - all averages are calculated using the 1971 - 2000 period

( ) = Consistent years of record

* = only rankings in the top 20 will be entered

Midwest Regional Climate Center March Discussion

Latest El Nino Trends              Large Scale Atmospheric Blocking Features

 

       



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