A Tale of Two Marches- 2012 vs. 2013

Just How Different was March 2013 from March 2012?

Below average temperatures across the local area lasted for almost the entire month of March 2013, outside of a few days. This was in stark contrast to March 2012, when much above average temperatures resided over the area and numerous all-time temperatures records were set.  For a look back at all the records set during March 2012, see our news story here.

The chart below shows the climate report for March 2013. For more in-depth summaries, click here for Fort Wayne and here for South Bend.

 

So how does March 2013 compare to March 2012? The charts below tell the tale of what a big difference a year can make.

High Temperatures

Most of March 2012 featured above normal high temperatures, except for a few days which were near to slightly below normal. In contrast, only 3-5 days had above normal high temperatures in March 2013. A large difference in temperatures was noted from March 12th-25th with a difference of almost 60 degrees on March 21st!

Fort Wayne South Bend

 

Average Temperatures

 

Low Temperatures

Most of March 2012 featured above normal low temperatures, except for a few days which were near to slightly below normal. In contrast, only a few days had above normal low temperatures in March 2013. A large difference in temperatures was noted from March 12th-25th with a difference of almost 50 degrees on March 21st!

Fort Wayne South Bend

 

Precipitation

More precipitation actually occurred in March 2012 which ended the month above normal at Fort Wayne and below normal at South Bend. March 2013 finished below normal at both Fort Wayne and South Bend. The end of the month was relatively dry with less than 0.5 - 1 inch of precipitation fell.

Fort Wayne South Bend

 

Snowfall

March 2013 was very different from March 2012 in terms of snowfall. Due to below normal temperatures much of the month, a large amount of precipitation fell in the form of snow. Fort Wayne ended March 2013 with an incredible 18.1 inches of snow which was 14.0 inches above normal! This was enough to make it the 3rd snowiest March on record. South Bend also saw above normal snowfall with 12.2 inches, which was 5.1 inches above normal for the month. Due to the record-breaking warmth of March 2012, much less snowfall was recorded.

Fort Wayne South Bend

 

Meteorological Factors

So what caused the large differences in temperatures between one March to the next? The main difference between the 2 months was the overall weather pattern. As meteorologists, we look at upper levels of the atmosphere on a daily basis to help determine what temperatures and weather will be like down here at the surface.

The charts below show heights (in meters) of the atmosphere at a certain pressure level (in millibars). Typically, higher heights are associated with ridges of high pressure. Lower heights are associated with troughs of low pressure. In very simplified terms, this boils down to: the higher (larger numbered contours) the heights, the warmer the temperatures As shown in the charts (top row) below, upper level heights were over 80 meters above the long term average in March 2012. This led to a large, strong ridge of high pressure at the surface over the eastern half of the US for much of the month which brought warm, moist air from the southOn the flip side, upper level heights were 50-100 meters below the long term average in March 2013 (bottom row). This led to a trough of low pressure centered off the east coast of the US which brought cooler air down from the northwest. The difference in heights between March 2012 and March 2013 was over 130 meters! This equated to a temperature difference of nearly 20 degrees at the surface between the 2 months.

Mar 2012 average 500 millibar (mb) heights Mar 2012 500mb departure from normal Mar 2012 mean sea level pressure (MSLP)
Mar 2013 average 500mb heights Mar 2013 500mb departure from normal Mar 2013 mean sea level pressure (MSLP)

 

 


Published 4/2/2013
by CEO/NG



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