March Weather Summary

March 2013 will be remembered as a month with much below normal temperatures and one significant snowstorm.  Average temperatures for the month were around 7 degrees below normal (Figure 1, click images to enlarge).  This was in stark contrast to March 2012 which was the warmest March ever recorded.  Persistent northwesterly flow from Canada, from the surface up through the mid-levels of the atmosphere, was responsible for the cool weather.  Frequent bouts of late season Arctic air descended upon the Midwest during the month.  Most areas saw only a day or two with highs in the 60s, while most days had highs in the 30s and 40s.  In fact, temperatures were below normal for 27 of the 31 days in March (see Figures 4-6).  Precipitation ended up being slightly above normal for western Illinois, but trended below normal for the eastern third of the state (Figure 2). 

One notable late season snowstorm affected the area on Sunday, March 24th.  The precipitation began during the night of March 23rd as a mixture of light rain and snow, but quickly changed over to all snow by Sunday morning.  Several rounds of moderate to heavy snow occurred Sunday afternoon.  Several locations also reported thunderstorms with the heavy snow.  Due to the convective nature of this event, impressive snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour were observed at times.  While all of central and southeast Illinois received significant amounts, the highest totals of 10 to 16 inches were centered along and just south of the I-72 corridor (Figure 3).  The highest official reports were 18.5 inches in Springfield and Taylorville. 

This storm set significant milestones for Springfield's official climate site: (1) A new 24-hour snowfall record at Springfield was established at 17.4 inches. This is based on the 24-hour period from 7 am Sunday, March 24, through 7 am Monday, March 25. This broke the all-time record for 24-hour snowfall, which was 15.0 inches set on February 28, 1900.  (2) The total for the calendar day on Sunday, March 24 was 17.0 inches. This broke the old daily record for March 24 of 2.4 inches, which was set in 1947.  (3) The total for the entire snowstorm in Springfield was 18.5 inches, which fell in a 30 hour period from 1 am Sunday, March 24, through 7 am Monday, March 25.  (4) On Monday, March 25, the morning snow depth was measured at 16 inches. This tied the all-time record for snow depth. The original record was first set from January 14-18th of 1918, and also on March 8, 1978.  For more information on this snowstorm and statistics for other cities, see our event webpage.


March temperature departure from normal

March precipitation departure from normal

March 24 snowfall

Fig. 1. March Temp. departure from normal

Fig. 2. March % of normal precipitation

Fig. 3. March 24th Snowfall

Peoria's March Temperature Chart

Springfield's March Temprature Chart

Lincoln's March Temperature Chart

Fig. 4. Peoria's March Temperature Chart

Fig. 5. Springfield's March Temperature Chart

Fig. 6. Lincoln's March Temperature Chart

Links below are the monthly climate summaries for area cities. Only the summaries for Peoria, Springfield and Lincoln are considered "official", meaning they are the station of record for their respective locations. The other summaries are "supplemental", meaning another location in the area is the official climate station for that city.

Climate data for other area cities is available at

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