March Normals and Extremes for Chicago and Rockford

March actually marks the end of meteorological winter and the beginning of meteorological spring, but it truly is a transition month from more winter-like to more spring-like weather across northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. March weather can run the gamut from cold-spells and heavy snow to warm spells and severe weather outbreaks containing tornadoes. In fact, Chicago’s fifth, sixth, and tenth biggest snowstorms, and Rockford’s third and fourth biggest snowstorms, all occurred in March. Furthermore, Rockford’s record maximum daily snowfall occurred on the last day of March in 1926. On the other side of the spectrum, a warm spell from late February through early March of 1974 produced the earliest ever 80 degree reading in Chicago on March 3, with a record high of 73 also being set at Rockford on that date. And on March, 12, 1976, there was a significant tornado outbreak that produced five tornadoes rated F2 or higher, including an F4 tornado that tore through Lake and Porter Counties in northwestern Indiana. Here is the rundown of 1971-2000 climatological normals for March for Chicago and Rockford, as well as climate records for each, dating back to 1871 for Chicago and 1905 for Rockford.

Chicago/Rockford March Average Statistics (1971-2000 Normals)

 

Temperature

 

Chicago

Rockford

Average High

46.1

45.5

Average Low

28.5

26.7

Monthly Mean

37.3

36.1

Days with High >=90

0

0

Days with High <=32

4

4

Days with Low <=32

21

22

Days with Low <= 0

0

0

Precipitation

 

Chicago

Rockford

Monthly Mean

2.65”

2.39”

Average Snowfall

6.0”

5.6”

Days with >=.01” Precipitation

12

11

Days with >= 1” Snowfall

2

2

 

Chicago/Rockford March Extremes/Records

 

 

Chicago

Rockford

Record High

88, 3/29/1986

85, 3/29/1986

Record Low

-12, 3/4/1873

-11, 3/1/1962 & 3/4/2002

Warmest Monthly Mean

48.6, 1910 & 1945

48.2, 1945

Coldest Monthly Mean

26.4, 1960

22.5, 1960

Wettest Month

5.58”, 1922

6.20”, 1944

Maximum Daily Precipitation

3.20”, 3/25/1884

2.50”, 3/4/1976

Driest Month

0.29”, 1910

0.27”, 1910

Snowiest Month

23.1”, 1926

22.7”, 1964

Maximum Daily Snowfall

13.6”, 3/25/1930

13.5”, 3/31/1926

 

March Outlook from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC)

The 30-day outlook for the remainder of March 2011 calls for equal chances of above or below normal temperatures for northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana, meaning there is no strong signal for above or below normal temperatures. There is a slightly higher than normal probability of above normal precipitation across northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana, with equal chances of above or below normal precipitation across north central and northwestern Illinois. For days 6-10, 8-14, one-month and three-month temperature and precipitation outlooks refer to: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

Stay tuned to this website for a more comprehensive outlook for the remainder of the 2011 spring as well as a review of the 2010-2011 winter, as both relate to the dominant climate signals that have or may come into play. 

RC

 



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