Climate Statistics for the First Day of Spring

The first day of astronomical spring occurs anywhere from March 19th through March 21st.  This year, spring arrived at 6:02 AM on March 20th.  Since 1972, the first day of spring has occurred on March 20th.  This long stretch will be broken up in 2016 when the first day of spring will occur on March 19th (first time since 1896).  It is interesting to note that this streak would have ended in 2008.  However with Daylight Savings Time being shifted from the first Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March in 2007, this kept the streak going.  The last time that the first day of spring occurred on March 21st was 1971.

Below are some First Day of Spring climate statistics for La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN.

La Crosse, WI:

The following statistics comprises 140 years of data.  From 1873 through 1950, the data came from various locations in downtown La Crosse.  Since 1950, the data has been gathered at La Crosse Regional Airport.

First Day of Spring in La Crosse, WI
(Period of Record 1873-2012)

Long Term Averages
Records
Maximum Temperature

43.2 F

Warmest High Temperature
75 F
March 21, 1911
Coldest High Temperature
13 F
March 20, 1885
Minimum Temperature
25.2 F
 
Warmest Low Temperature
57 F
March 20, 2012
Coldest Low Temperature
-13 F
March 20, 1965
Average Temperature
34.2 F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
65.5 F
March 20,2012
Coldest Average Temperature
3.5 F
March 20, 1965
Precipitation
0.06"
Wettest
1.22"
March 19, 1888
Snowfall
0.2"
Snowiest
3.2"
March 20, 1940
Snow Depth
at 7 AM
2"
Most Snow of Ground
at 7 AM
14"
March 20, 1933

The odds of having any precipitation at all on first day of spring is 45.0% (63 out of 140).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) precipitation 35 times and trace amounts (less than 0.01") of precipitation 28 times.  Since 1896, it has snowed on the first day of spring 28.3% of the time (34 out of 106).  Measurable snow (0.1" or greater) has fallen 19 times and trace amounts (less than 0.1") of snow 15 times.  The last time measurable snow fell was back in 2003 when a tenth of an inch of snow fell.  Since 1893, residents have woken up with measurable snow (half inch or greater) on the ground 38 times, trace amounts (less than a half inch) 21 times, and no snow 61 times.

During 2012 (March 20), the high temperature was 74 degrees and the low temperature was 57 degrees (warmest low temperature).  The average temperature was the warmest ever (65.5 degrees).  Just over two tenths (0.21 inches) of an inch of rain fell and there was no snow on the ground.

In contrast this year, we will be one of the coldest first days of spring.  High temperatures will be around 20 degrees.  The table below shows the coldest high temperatures on the first day of spring.

 1   13 degrees     1885   (March 20th)
 2   19 degrees     1899   (March 20th)
 3   20 degrees     1965   (March 20th)
     20 degrees     1951   (March 21st)
 5   21 degrees     1900   (March 20th)
 6   22 degrees     1876   (March 20th)
 7   23 degrees     1892   (March 19th)
 8   24 degrees     1912   (March 20th)
 9   25 degrees     1986   (March 20th)
     25 degrees     1959   (March 21st)
     25 degrees     1875   (March 20th)

Rochester, MN:

The following statistics comprises 126 years of data.  From 1887 through 1931, the data came from several cooperative observers in the Rochester area.  Since 1932, the data has been gathered at Rochester International Airport. No data was taken on the first day of spring from 1889 to 1891, 1908, and from 1921 to 1928.

First Day of Spring in Rochester, MN
(Period of Record 1887-2012)

Long Term Averages
Records
Maximum Temperature

41.2 F

Warmest High Temperature
77 F
March 21, 1938
Coldest High Temperature
10F
March 20, 1965
Minimum Temperature
23.2 F
 
Warmest Low Temperature
58 F
March 20, 2012
Coldest Low Temperature
-8 F
March 20, 1965
Average Temperature
32.2 F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
63.5 F
March 20, 2012
Coldest Average Temperature
1.0 F
March 20, 1965
Precipitation
0.05"
Wettest
0.72"
March 20, 2011
Snowfall
0.2"
Snowiest
3.6"
March 20, 1984
Snow Depth
at 7 AM
3.3"
Most Snow of Ground
at 7 AM
18"

March 20, 2005

The odds of having any precipitation at all on first day of spring is 48.5% (57 out of 97).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) precipitation 23 times and trace amounts (less than 0.01") of precipitation 24 times.  It has snowed on the first day of spring 31.6% of the time (30 out of 65).  Measurable snow (0.1" or greater) has fallen 13 times and trace amounts (less than 0.1") of snow 17 times.  The last time measurable snow fell was back in 2002 when four tenths of an inch of snow fell.  Residents have woken up with measurable snow (half inch or greater) on the ground 34 times, trace amounts (less than a half inch) 13 times, and no snow 25 times.

During 2012 (March 20), the high temperature was 69 degrees and the low temperature was 58 degrees (warmest low temperature).  The average temperature was the warmest ever (63.5 degrees).  No precipitation fell and there was no snow on the ground.

In contrast this year, we will be one of the coldest first days of spring.  High temperatures will be in the teens.  The table below shows the coldest high temperatures on the first day of spring.

 1   10 degrees     1965   (March 20th)
 2   15 degrees     1951   (March 21st)
 3   17 degrees     1892   (March 19th)
 4   23 degrees     1986   (March 20th)
     23 degrees     1933   (March 20th)
 6   24 degrees     1959   (March 21st)
 7   27 degrees     1983   (March 20th)
     27 degrees     1955   (March 21st)
     27 degrees     1932   (March 20th)
10   28 degrees     1974   (March 20th)
     28 degrees     1943   (March 21st)

First Day of Spring Weather History 

  • In 1933 (March 20), New Hampton, IA received 10" of snow.
  • In 1951 (March 21), Curtiss, WI received 9.4" of snow.
  • In 1955 (March 21), an early spring snow storm deposited snow in the amounts of:
    • In IA: Decorah (6"), Dorchester (6"), and New Hampton (6").
    • In MN: Caledonia (8"), Hokah (8"), Grand Meadow (6"), Harmony (6"), La Crescent (6"), Spring Grove (6"), and Winona (6").
    • In WI: Mather (7"), Sparta (7"), Trempealeau (7"), Hatfield (6.1"), Cashton (6"), Curtiss (6"), Goodrich (6"), Neillsville (6"), and Owen (6").
  • In 1965 (March 20), Jump River, WI had their coldest March temperature (-27F).
  • In 1967 (March 21), heavy snow fell across western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa.  This winter storm affected Elkader, IA (9"), Platteville, WI (8.9"), Prairie du Chien, WI (8"), Lancaster, WI (7"). Decorah, IA (6.5"), Mather, WI (6.5"), Neillsville, WI (6") snow, and Waucoma, IA (6").  
  • In 1970 (March 20), a winter storm affected the region.  Some of the snow totals from this storm includes: 
    • In IA: Charles City (7"), Cresco (7"), Osage (6.5"), Decorah (6"), Fayette (6").
    • In MN: Harmony (6"), Grand Meadow (6"), Minnesota City (6"), Theilman (6").
    • In WI: Trempealeau (6.5"), Mauston (6"), Neillsville (6"), Sparta (6"), Viroqua (6").
  • In 1971 (March 21), Decorah, IA received 12" of snow.
  • In 1984 (March 20), Alma, WI received 7" of snow.

 

 



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