March 2012: Detailed Weather and Climate Review Including Narrative

(Click on the links in gray boxes below to quickly jump to information located farther down the page)

Monthly Narrative

Tri-Cities & Ord Details 
& Monthly Extremes
Graphs, Tables, Maps Drought Monitor Graphics

Monthly Precipitation & Snowfall Tables & Archive of These Monthly Reviews

March 2012 Weather Stories 
(Click HERE for archive to all web stories)
 

March 1-19: 

Warmest Start to March on Record at Grand Island and Hastings!

March 16-17:

Record Warmth Across South Central Nebraska

March 2012:

Warmest March on Record Across Much of the Area!

March 2012:

Frost and Freeze Information for Spring 2012

March 2012:

Monthly Climate Summaries Specifically For Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Ord

* Please Note: All climate data presented here are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at: WWW.NCDC.NOAA.GOV

* Effective Aug. 1, 2011: The new set of 30-year climate averages, or "normals", from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) for 1981-2010 superseded the previous 30-year set of 1971-2000 normals on all NWS climate-related products.


March 2012 Climate Review For South Central Nebraska And Portions Of North Central Kansas

...RECORD-BREAKING WARMTH ACROSS MOST OF THE AREA...But Below Normal Precipitation...

The following narrative focuses on climate and weather highlights for the month of March 2012 across the NWS Hastings coverage area, encompassing 24 counties in south central and central Nebraska, and 6 counties in north central Kansas. Click HERE for a map of this coverage area. The temperature and precipitation data presented here are largely based on the NWS Cooperative Observer network, along with data from a handful of automated airport sites. Climate averages and "normals" for March 2012 presented here are based on the official 1981-2010 normals.

TEMPERATURES...(According to 30-year averages, "normal" March high temperatures in South Central Nebraska gradually climb from the low or mid-40s early in the month to the upper 50s by month's end. In North Central Kansas, highs gradually warm from around 50 to around 60. Low temperatures across the area generally climb from the low-20s early in the month to the low-30s late...) 

For the sixth month in a row, and for the eighth or ninth time in the last ten months, above normal temperatures dominated the NWS Hastings coverage area. However, March 2012 took this warmth to a whole new level, with nearly the entire area finishing with the warmest or 2nd-warmest March on record based on average mean temperature, either breaking or nearing the original record set way back in 1910! Most of the area ended up an incredible 12-15 degrees above normal for the month. Among the sites setting a record for March warmth were the Tri-Cities of Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney.  For a more in-depth look at some of the record-breaking temperature data, please see this story. This was the first monthly temperature record within the area since January 2006, which was also for record warmth.

Reviewing the temperature trends throughout the month, March 2012 did not start out on a record-breaking pace, with high temperatures on the first three days only reaching the 40s or 50s. For much of the area, the morning of the 3rd was the coldest of the month, with lows in the teens to low-20s. Beyond those first few days however, things took a prolonged upward swing, and by the 19th, much of the area had already established its warmest start to March on record. The most concentrated week of warmth was between the 12th-18th. During this stretch, daily highs at Grand Island ranged from 77-84 degrees, or from 28-32 degrees above normal. For much of the area, this was the warmest week ever during the month of March that ended on or before the 18th. Turning to the end of the month, the 31st provided a fitting exclamation point, as this was the warmest day of the month across most of the area with highs in the mid to upper-80s.

Over the course of the month, Grand Island reached or exceeded 70 degrees on 16 days (normal is three days) and reached or exceeded 80 degrees on eight days (normal is one day). Although daily low temperatures were not quite as far above normal as the highs, much of the area made it through the final three weeks of the month without ever dropping below freezing. At Grand Island, only eight days of sub-freezing low temperatures were observed, versus the 30-year normal of 22 days.

In the Nebraska Tri-Cities, Grand Island recorded the warmest reading of the month with 88 degrees on the 31st, while both Kearney and Hastings tied for the coldest temperature of the month with a low of 19 degrees on the 3rd.  Based on reports from NWS Cooperative Observer reports and automated airport sites, one of the warmest readings of the month was 89 degrees on the 31st at several locations, including Hebron and Aurora.  One of the coldest readings of the month was 16 degrees at Gothenburg on the morning of the 3rd. 

(Please look farther down the page for more information on March 2012 temperatures and extremes, including detailed breakdowns for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord)


PRECIPITATION/SNOWFALL...(According to 30-year averages, "normal" March precipitation (rainfall and snow liquid equivalent) across most of the 30-county area ranges somewhere between 1.70 and 2.15 inches, with the highest amounts favoring eastern areas closest to the Highway 81 corridor such as York, Hebron and Beloit. However, far western areas such as Cambridge and Gothenburg average a bit lower, generally between 1.20 and 1.50 inches. Normal March snowfall ranges from 4-6 inches across most of South Central Nebraska, and 2-3 inches in North Central Kansas.)

Based on reports from around 70 NWS Cooperative Observers, along with a handful of automated airport sites, roughly 85% of the 30-county area measured below normal precipitation during March 2012. In fact, around 40% of the area received less than half of normal March precipitation, including Grand Island and Hastings. In general, these driest areas were focused near and north of Interstate 80.  Monthly precipitation totals across the majority of the area ranged between 0.70 and 1.70 inches. The limited areas that picked up more than 1.75 inches of precipitation were mainly concentrated across North Central Kansas counties such as Jewell, Mitchell and Rooks. Another very localized area of above normal rainfall targeted parts of northern Furnas and southern Gosper Counties, thanks to a nearly stationary thunderstorm that dumped several inches of rain on the afternoon of the 28th. Although no ground-truth gauge readings were received under the heaviest part of this storm, radar estimations suggested that 3-4 inches might have fallen in rural areas north of Holbrook and Arapahoe. Per NWS Cooperative Observers, a few of the highest monthly precipitation totals were measured 8 miles south of Elwood in Gosper County (2.47 inches) and at Ionia in Jewell County (2.27 inches). On the dry end of the spectrum, a few of the lowest amounts included 0.20-inch at Polk and 0.49-inch at Canaday Steam Plant southeast of Lexington. For most of the area, the majority of the month's measurable rain fell on the 11th-12th and the 21st-22nd.

Following hand-in-hand with the record breaking warmth, snowfall was nearly non-existent across the area during the month, with only a handful of sites reporting a non-measurable trace. Although this lack of measurable snow during March was by no means unprecedented, it had been 15-20 years since this occurred in places such as Grand Island and Hastings. 

(Please look farther down the page for more information on March 2012 precipitation and extremes, including rankings of wettest and driest locations, percent-of-normal plots, and a detailed breakdown for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord. In addition, the link on the far upper right of this page contains an archive of monthly precipitation amounts for around 70 locations.)


DROUGHT STATUS...Compared to the issuance on March 6, 2012, the U.S. Drought Monitor as of March 27, 2012 (images at bottom of page) reflected a slight expansion of Category D0 (abnormally dry) conditions across parts of the NWS Hastings coverage area, although all areas remained free of Category D1 (moderate drought). The zone of abnormally dry conditions encompassed only about 25% of the coverage area, and was mainly centered through counties such as Polk, York, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster, and brushing into northern portions of Rooks, Smith and Jewell in KS. The slight expansion of this abnormally dry area was not surprising considering that the majority of the area measured below normal rainfall during the month. 

(Please refer to the Drought Monitor graphics toward the bottom of the page for further details)


SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS/HIGH WINDS...Although no widespread, significant severe weather outbreaks occurred during the month, localized instances of severe weather mainly in the form of hail and damaging winds occurred during the early morning of the 19th, and during the afternoon and evening of the 28th and 30th. One of  the most significant severe weather reports of the month involved a farm machine shed destroyed by a rare morning tornado 9 miles east of Mankato, KS, on the 19th. On the 28th, copious amounts of pea to quarter size hail dumped on small portions of northern Furnas and southern Gosper Counties, including the community of Holbrook.

- Number of Severe Thunderstorm Warning polygons issued by NWS Hastings in March 2012: 15  (11 more than last year)
- Number of Tornado Warning polygons issued by NWS Hastings in March 2012:  Zero   (same as last year)

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  March 2012 Climate Details For Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord...Along With Temperature and Rainfall Extremes For NWS Cooperative Observer and Automated Airport Sites

Click on the links below for the March 2012 climate summaries for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord

Grand Island     Hastings     Kearney         Ord


...MARCH 2012 TEMPERATURE/PRECIPITATION/SNOWFALL EXTREMES FROM 
NWS HASTINGS COOPERATIVE OBSERVERS OR AUTOMATED ASOS/AWOS SITES...

...A FEW OF THE WARMEST HIGH TEMPERATURES DURING MARCH 2012                        
89 degrees...Hebron on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
89 degrees...Aurora airport on the 31st (automated AWOS)
89 degrees...Geneva on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
89 degrees...Clay Center on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
88 degrees...Beloit KS on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
88 degrees...York (3 miles north) on the 31st  (Cooperative Observer)
88 degrees...Phillipsburg KS airport on the 31st (automated AWOS)
87 degrees...Smith Center KS on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
87 degrees...Hastings airport on the 31st (automated ASOS)
Note: several other locations also reached 87 degrees
                         
...A FEW OF THE COLDEST LOW TEMPERATURES DURING MARCH 2012 
16 degrees...Gothenburg on the 3rd (Cooperative Observer)
17 degrees...Cambridge on the 3rd (Cooperative Observer)
17 degrees...Lexington airport on the 3rd (automated AWOS)
17 degrees...Alton KS (2 miles southwest) on the 3rd (Cooperative Observer)
18 degrees...Greeley on the 3rd (Cooperative Observer)
18 degrees...Beaver City on the 3rd (Cooperative Observer)
19 degrees...Ord airport on the 3rd, 9th (automated ASOS)
19 degrees...Kearney airport on the 3rd (automated ASOS)
Note: several other locations also reached 19 degrees
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
...A FEW OF THE HIGHEST RAINFALL AND/OR SNOW-LIQUID EQUIVALENT TOTALS DURING MARCH 2012                                                            
2.47 Inches...Elwood (8 miles south) in Gosper County (Cooperative Observer)
2.27 Inches...Ionia KS in Jewell County (Cooperative Observer)
2.16 Inches...Covert KS in Osborne County (Cooperative Observer)
2.09 Inches...Alton KS (2 miles southwest) in Osborne County (Cooperative Observer)
1.99 Inches...Glen Elder Dam KS in Mitchell County (Cooperative Observer)
1.97 Inches...Plainville KS (4 miles west-northwest) in Rooks County (Cooperative Observer)
                                
...A FEW OF THE LOWEST RAINFALL AND/OR SNOW-LIQUID EQUIVALENT TOTALS DURING MARCH 2012 
0.20 Inches...Polk in Polk County (Cooperative Observer)
0.49 Inches...Canaday Steam Plant (6 SSE Lexington) in Gosper County (Cooperative Observer)
0.50 Inches...Loup City in Sherman County (Cooperative Observer)
0.51 Inches...Clay Center in Clay County (Cooperative Observer)
0.53 Inches...Arcadia in Valley County (Cooperative Observer)
0.53 Inches...Cozad in Dawson County (Cooperative Observer)


...A FEW OF THE HIGHEST SNOWFALL TOTALS DURING MARCH 2012 
No locations within the area recorded more than a non-measurable Trace! 

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Various graphs and tables depicting March 2012 climate data for 
South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas:

* Please Note: These data are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at WWW.NCDC.NOAA.GOV

Click Each Graph To Go To Monthly Temp/Precip Summary Pages

Grand Island Temperature Summary: Observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures are connected by blue bars. Area between normal maximum and minimum temperatures is shaded green. Red bars connect record high temperatures. Blue bars connect record low temperatures.

Hastings Temperature Summary: Observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures are connected by blue bars. Area between normal maximum and minimum temperatures is shaded green. Red bars connect record high temperatures. Blue bars connect record low temperatures.

 

Click Images To Enlarge

Grand Island Precipitation Summary: Blue line indicates cumulative observed precipitation for March 2012. Red line indicates "normal" March precipitation based on 30-year data from 1981-2010.

Hastings Precipitation Summary: Blue line indicates cumulative observed precipitation for March 2012. Red line indicates "normal" March precipitation based on 30-year data from 1981-2010.

 

Grand Island (Regional Airport) - March 2011 - March 2012

  March 2011 April May June July August Sep. October November December January February March

Average High (F)

48.6

61.5

71.5

83.7

89.0

86.0

74.8

68.7

52.7

39.6

45.1

40.9

69.2

Average Low (F)

27.5

38.1

48.1

59.9

69.8

63.5

47.3

41.1

26.4

19.5

19.4

19.3

39.0

Average Temperature (F)

38.1

49.8

59.8

71.8

79.4

74.7

61.0

54.9

39.6

29.5

32.2

30.1

54.1

Departure from Normal (F)

-1.3

-0.1

-0.8

+0.7

+3.6

+0.7

-4.1

+2.7

+1.5

+2.8

+7.1

+1.0

+14.7

 

Precipitation (inches)

1.02

2.93

8.70

1.72

4.37

2.30

0.83

2.20

0.21

 1.11

0.16

1.05

0.83

Departure from Normal

-0.78

+0.32

+4.63

-2.00

+1.23

-0.82

-1.40

+0.34

-0.96

+0.48

-0.37

+0.37

-0.97

 

Snowfall (inches)

8.7

0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

8.3

1.6

10.2

Trace

Departure from Normal

+3.1

-1.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.1

-1.0

-3.1

+3.1

-5.0

+4.1

-5.6

 

Hastings (Municipal Airport) - March 2011 - March 2012

  March 2011 April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

January

February

March

Average High (F)

49.2

61.9

71.1

83.1

89.8

84.3

74.0

68.4

52.7

39.2

44.4

40.7

68.2

Average Low (F)

28.4

38.6

48.3

60.8

69.9

64.6

48.2

41.5

27.2

18.9

19.0

20.0

38.5

Average Temperature (F)

38.8

50.3

59.7

71.9

79.9

74.4

61.1

54.9

40.0

29.0

31.7

30.3

53.3

Departure from Normal (F)

-1.1

-0.3

-1.8

+0.2

+3.8

+0.1

-4.5

+2.3

+1.3

+1.4

+5.7

+0.4

+13.4

 

Precipitation (inches)

0.49

4.34

5.03

2.65

4.96

4.90

0.70

1.36

0.38

1.00

0.14

1.67

0.86

Departure from Normal

-1.30

+1.47

+0.44

-0.94

+1.15

+1.60

-1.86

 -0.63

-0.91

+0.39

-0.27

+1.18

-0.93

 

Snowfall NWS Office (inches)

4.4

1.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

9.4

1.7

11.4

Zero

Departure from Normal

-0.8

-0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-1.0

-2.6

+3.3

-4.8

+4.9

-5.2

 

Kearney (Cooperative Observer at Airport) - March 2011 - March 2012
(*Temperature Data may include "mix"of automated obs and Cooperative Observer obs to better reflect true "calendar day" averages)

 

March 2011

April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

January

February

March

Average High (F)*

48.2

60.9

70.5

82.7

88.1

84.9

74.1

67.7

52.2

39.2

44.7

40.7

68.0

Average Low (F)*

25.7

37.0

45.8

59.2

68.4

63.9

47.3

40.0

24.9

18.0

18.5

19.3

37.8

Average Temperature (F)*

37.0

49.0

58.2

71.0

78.2

74.4

60.7

53.8

38.5

28.6

31.6

30.0

52.9

Departure from Normal (F)*

-0.7

+0.8

-1.0

+1.2

+3.5

+1.8

-2.8

+2.9

+1.5

+2.7

+7.0

+1.9

+15.2

 

Precipitation (inches)

0.90

3.45

7.53

4.51

4.07

3.72

0.65

4.92

0.33

0.39

0.03

1.04

1.02

Departure from Normal

-0.89

+1.02

+3.41

+0.58

+0.79

+0.64

-1.42

+2.88

-0.69

-0.18

-0.46

+0.49

-0.77

 

Snowfall (inches)

11.7

T

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

6.6

Trace

7.0

Zero

Departure from Normal

+7.1

-2.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-0.7

-3.1

+3.1

-4.4

+1.9

-4.6

 

Ord (Evelyn Sharp Field Airport) - March 2011 - March 2012
(*Winter precipitiation data may include coop observer reports due to automated airport equipment under-measuring snowfall liquid equivalent)

 

March 2011

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

January

February

March

Average High (F)

-

59.1

68.7

80.4

88.9

86.1

74.5

66.6

52.8

39.5

45.0

40.2

67.7

Average Low (F)

-

35.2

44.9

57.0

67.6

61.4

43.9

36.6

20.2

14.1

15.6

15.7

34.1

Average Temperature (F)

-

47.2

56.8

68.7

78.2

73.8

59.2

51.6

36.5

26.8

30.3

27.9

50.9

Departure from Normal (F)

-

-1.6

-2.5

-0.5

+3.8

+0.8

-4.4

+2.0

+0.2

+1.9

+5.7

+0.1

+13.2

 

Precipitation (inches)*

-

2.51

4.90

4.16

2.23

2.46

0.77

2.83

0.03

0.54

0.13

1.30

0.67

Departure from Normal

-

-0.08

+1.09

+0.04

-0.74

-0.70

-1.67

+0.90

-1.04

-0.05

-0.24

+0.86

-0.78

 

Snowfall (Coop Observer)

-

3.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

8.5

1.5

8.0

Zero

Departure from Normal

-

+0.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-1.1

-5.3

+1.1

-5.3

+2.0

-5.9

 

Smith Center KS (Cooperative Observer) - March 2011 - March 2012
(*All data from coop observer with daily 24-hour obs taken around 7 AM. As a result, data may vary slightly from true "calendar day" averages)

 

March 2011

April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

January

February

March

Average High (F)*

52.8

66.2

73.8

86.9

95.8

89.5

78.0

71.0

54.4

43.0

47.1

45.8

70.5

Average Low (F)*

27.6

38.1

47.1

60.4

69.2

65.6

49.8

41.0

27.3

18.7

18.5

20.6

38.3

Average Temperature (F)*

40.2

52.1

60.5

73.7

82.5

77.6

63.9

56.0

40.9

30.9

32.8

33.2

54.4

Departure from Normal (F)*

-1.4

-0.4

-3.3

-0.3

+2.8

+0.4

-4.3

+1.2

+0.5

+2.1

+5.1

+1.2

+12.8

 

Precipitation (inches)

0.54

2.30

9.45

4.82

5.25

5.03

0.39

2.32

0.72

0.95

0.13

1.31

1.28

Departure from Normal

-1.33

+0.03

+5.53

+1.21

+1.38

+1.73

-1.65

+0.44

-0.50

+0.29

-0.36

+0.73

-0.59

 

Snowfall (inches)

3.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

 3.7

Trace

4.6

Zero

Departure from Normal

+0.8

-0.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-0.4

-1.2

+0.5 

-3.7

+0.5

-2.6


Most of the following images depicting March 2012 Precipitation and Temperatures are courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center:

* Please note: These maps are a "best-approximation" of actual measured values, and data reflected on these maps may not exactly match actual values due to the effects of interpolation and "smoothing" used to create the maps. In addition, some "bullseyes" may be a result of missing data.

Click Images To Enlarge

Nebraska: March 2012
Measured Precipitation (Inches)
Kansas: March 2012
Measured Precipitation (Inches)
Nebraska: March 2012 Percent of Normal Measured Precip. Kansas: March 2012 Percent 
of Normal Measured Precip.
 
NWS Hastings Area: March 2012 Total "Observed" Precipitation
Based On AHPS Precipitation Analysis Including Radar Data

<--- While the precipitation images above are based strictly on gauge-measured data, this image on the left utilizes an "Observed" multisensor approach created by River Forecast Centers. Hourly precipitation estimates from WSR-88D NEXRAD radar are compared to ground rainfall gauge reports, and a bias (correction factor) is calculated and applied to the radar field. For much more information on these types of images, and to create your own precipitation maps, please visit the following site: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ridge2/
RFC_Precip/index.php?site=gid

   
Nebraska: March 2012 Temperature Departure 
from Normal (F)
Kansas: March 2012 
Temperature Departure 
from Normal (F)


The following drought status images, current as of March 27, 2012, are courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor (see narrative above for more details):

Click Images To Enlarge

Nebraska - U.S. Drought Monitor as of March 27, 2012

Kansas - U.S. Drought Monitor as of March 27, 2012

For more climate related information, check out the following websites:

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.
 



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