March 2011 Climate Summary

Central Indiana
March 2011
Climate Summary
 
Tied for 39th Warmest on record at Indianapolis
59th Wettest on record at Indianapolis
 
Temperatures
Typical of March, temperatures rode a roller coaster through the month across central Indiana. Highs remained near normal through the first few days of the month under high pressure.   In the wake of a strong low pressure system on the 4th and 5th, colder air was brought south into the state with highs struggling to make it to 40 degrees on the 6th and 7th. Highs returned to the 40s and 50s through the middle of the month under a benign weather pattern with small storm systems moving through the state periodically with rain and clouds.
A substantial warmup began in earnest on the 16th as high pressure expanded into the Ohio Valley with southerly winds bringing the first significant stretch of warm weather for 2011. Over the next eight days, high temperatures remained mostly above 60 degrees each day, with several days where temperatures warmed into the mid and upper 70s. Several locations over south central Indiana reached 80 degrees for the first time in 2011 on the 21st, and much of the area enjoyed temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees above normal for mid-March.
 In the wake of a strong cold front on the 23rd, high temperatures returned to as much as 15 degrees below normal for late March as a large upper trough established over the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley and persistent northeast winds brought continued blasts of cold air. High temperatures at Indianapolis from the 24th through the end of the month remained largely in the 40s with lows frequently falling into the 20s. At Muncie, temperatures never got above 40 degrees for several days during the last week of the month.
 
Site
March 2011 Avg Temp
March 2011 Difference from Normal
Highest
Temperature
Lowest Temperature
Indianapolis
43.6
+1.9
78 on 21
24 on 1 and 27
Lafayette
42.2
+3.4
73 on 17
20 on 1
Muncie
40.7
+1.9
72 on 21
21 on 27
Terre Haute
43.8
+1.3
77 on 21
21 on 1
Bloomington
44.8
+2.8
78 on 21
23 on 1
Shelbyville
44.0
+2.6
77 on 21
24 on 31
Indy – Eagle Crk.
43.1
+1.4
75 on 21
22 on 1
 
At Indianapolis, there were 13 days with below normal average temperatures, 16 days with above normal average temperatures and 2 days with normal average temperatures.
 
March 2011 was the 39th warmest in the Indianapolis area since 1871.
 
Precipitation

Monthly rainfall for central and southern Indiana ranged from slightly over one inch in the Cayuga area of west central Indiana to nearly 7 inches in the Greenville, Ohio area of east central Indiana. Most of the area along and south of a line from Paris, Illinois to Lima, Ohio received 3 to 6 inches of rainfall during March, while locations north of this line generally received only 1 to 3 inches.
March’s rainfall was not distributed evenly. Much of the rain occurred within the first 15 days of March. Rainfall was much more widespread and lighter after the 15th.   Many areas received less than one half of an inch of rainfall during the remainder of March.
As a result of a series of rain storms from February 21 through March 15, Indiana experienced widespread and prolonged river flooding.   Rainfall in much of central and southern Indiana during this period ranged from 6 to 12 inches.   Flooding ended by March 26 after persisting for seven weeks along portions of the Wabash River.
White River flooding from Muncie to the north side of Indianapolis was the highest since March 2007. Flooding along the lowest reaches of the East Fork White, White and Wabash Rivers was the highest since June 2008. Flooding along the Ohio River in southern Indiana was the highest since January 2005.
 
Site
March 2011 Precipitation
March 2011 Difference from Normal
Wettest Day
Longest Dry Stretch
Indianapolis
3.73
 +0.29
1.60 on 5
 4 days 26-29
Lafayette
2.15
 -0.69
0.64 on 15
 8 days 24-31
Muncie
4.04
 +0.94
1.48 on 5
 5 days 25-29
Terre Haute
2.94*
 -0.74
1.47 on 5
 5 days 25-29
Bloomington
4.16
 +0.50
1.32 on 5
 3 days 1-3, 11-13, 27-29
Shelbyville
4.07
 +0.65
1.61 on 5
 4 days 26-29
Indy – Eagle Crk.
3.36
 +0.08
1.46 on 5
 5 days 25-29
                           
March 2011 was the 59th wettest in the Indianapolis area since weather records began in 1871.
*Precipitation data is missing for Terre Haute on Mar 4 and 18
 
Snowfall
 
There were several instances through the month where rain changed to light snow or flurries briefly before ending, producing little if any accumulations. An upper level system passing through the lower Ohio Valley produced a swath of one to three inches of snowfall from Vincennes east through Bedford and Seymour on the evening of the 26th and early morning of the 27th. The snow melted quickly on the morning of the 27th as temperatures rose into the 40s.   Another upper level disturbance passing through central Indiana on the 30th produced brief but heavy snow squalls during the late morning and early afternoon. Several locations received up to one to one and a half inches in a short period as the disturbance passed through the area. Officially at the Indianapolis International Airport, 1.5 inches fell. The snow collected on grassy areas, but melted quickly during the afternoon as temperatures warmed into the 40s.
 
Severe Weather
 

Scattered strong thunderstorms developed during the early morning of the 21st to the northeast of Indianapolis as a warm front lifted north across central Indiana. A strong cold front moving through on the 23rd brought two rounds of severe thunderstorms to the area. The first cluster of thunderstorms developed during the early afternoon from Vincennes east-northeast through Columbus and Seymour, Greensburg and Rushville. These storms produced large hail up to the size of quarters in Bedford. 
 
A second round of thunderstorms developed over west-central Indiana on the evening of the 23rd and quickly became severe. These storms produced up to 2 inch hail as they marched east from Covington and Crawfordsville through the Indianapolis metro area and into eastern Indiana. Damage to homes from the large hail took place in New Salem in Rush County. The storms also produced wind damage, including along State Route 37 in Noblesville where winds up to 80 mph caused roof and siding damage to a number of homes and knocked down numerous trees.
 
For information on severe weather in other areas during March, visit the Storm Prediction Center “Severe Weather Event Summaries” website at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/.
 
Miscellaneous
 
The maximum wind gust at Indianapolis International Airport was 46 mph out of the west on the 23rd. Fog or haze was reported at Indianapolis on 10 days during the month, with dense fog reported only on the 30th as a brief heavy snow band passed through the Indianapolis area. Thunder was reported on 2 days during the month.
 
April 2011 Outlook
 
The official outlook for April 2011 from the Climate Prediction Center indicates an equal chance for above normal, normal, or below normal temperatures for central Indiana.  At Indianapolis, the average temperature for the month is 52.0 degrees. The outlook calls for more than a 40 percent chance of above normal precipitation across most of central Indiana. The average precipitation for April at Indianapolis is 3.61” with 0.4” of snowfall.
  
 
Data prepared by the Indianapolis Forecast Office.


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