Warm, Dry, and Almost Snowless
March 2009 began on a very cold note but was then marked by a very dry and warm weather pattern that persisted through most of the month, before breaking late as temperatures fell below normal to close things out. It came very close to being the first March ever on record to not record any snow at all, but flurries on the 29th put an end to that record run.
March 2009 was the 36th driest March on record in Indianapolis and was the driest since 2005. It was also the 15th warmest March on record.
The following is a summary of everything that was weather in Indianapolis during the month of March 2009.
March 2009 finished with an average monthly temperature of 47.2 degrees. This was above normal by 5.5 degrees and is the 15th warmest March on record. It is also a sharp contrast to March of last year, which was significantly cooler, with an average temperature of 40.4 degrees.
A record high temperature was set on the 10th of March, with a high of 74 degrees, which broke a very old record for the day. The previous record on the 11th was a high of 72 degrees set way back in the year 1894 and tied in 1925.
There were many days that ended up significantly warmer or colder than normal. The most above normal day came on the 7th, which was above normal by 27 degrees. The most below normal days were the 6th and 7th, both of which were 15 degrees below normal.
Overall, only 2 days during the month saw a high temperature fail to reach the freezing mark. An average March sees 5 days with sub-freezing high temperatures. There were 6 days with highs of 70 degrees or warmer, compared to a normal of 3.
The coldest temperature of the month was 13 degrees on the morning of the 3rd and the warmest temperature of the month was 76 degrees on the 7th.
March of 2009 was notable for the lack of rainfall that fell on the Indianapolis area. The monthly total of 2.28 inches was below normal by 1.16 inches, and made this the 36th driest March on record, and the driest since March of 2005.
The month’s rainfall was largely created by heavy showers and thunderstorms on the 28th which dropped a total of 1.16 inches on the Indianapolis International Airport. Outside of this heavy total, there were just a few smaller rain events, with 0.20 inches on the 18th and 0.30 inches on the 10th.
Despite the light rainfall at Indianapolis, it was not the case in other parts of Central Indiana. There was some significant river flooding during mid March on portions of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers in western portions of Central Indiana. This was a combination of snow melt and heavy rain that largely occurred across northern Indiana. Some heavier rain did fall across portions of Central Indiana, and Lafayette was actually slightly above normal for rainfall this month, with 3.03 inches recorded.
March is typically the last month in which significant snow falls on central Indiana during the season. A normal March would bring 3.1 inches to Indianapolis. This year made a serious challenge to an all time record. Since snowfall records began in Indianapolis in 1884, there has never been a March where no snow at all has fallen. This year, there was no snow at all until some flurries fell on the 29th. This brought the monthly total to a Trace.
It made this March the 15th on record to only record a Trace of snowfall for the monthly total. It was the first time since 2001 that this has happened. While the month did not pass completely snowless, no other month has made it to the 29th of March without snowfall.
The seasonal snowfall total for the 2008-2009 snow season remains at 24.3 inches. This is slightly below the normal of 26.2 inches that falls through the end of March.
A fairly significant severe weather outbreak occurred on the 8th of March in Central Indiana. The most damaging portion of this event was an EF3 tornado which touched down in Lawrence County, west of Bedford near the town of Fayetteville. This tornado produced significant damage to several homes and farms. There were several other, weaker, EF0 tornadoes that day from the same parent thunderstorm. In addition to this tornado there were 80-90 mph winds in portions of Knox and Daviess counties, as well as winds of 60-70 mph in Tippecanoe, Clinton, and Howard counties, producing damage there as well.
The official April outlook from the Climate Prediction Center indicates equal chances of above, below, or near normal values of precipitation and temperatures for the month.
Data Prepared by Logan Johnson, Climate Services Focal Point with assistance from NWS Indianapolis forecast team
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Temperature and Precipitation Records Cover 1871-2009 in the Indianapolis Area.
Snowfall Records Cover the period 1884-2009 in the Indianapolis Area.
Normals refer to reference period 1971-2000.
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