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Thursday, April 12, 2012

March and Winter 2012 Weather Summary - Thanks Lee!

The data below are excerpts from the March 2012 monthly weather summary by Lee Warnick for Rexburg, Idaho.  He is a member of the Faculty at BYU-Idaho, a National Weather Service (NWS) weather spotter, and avid amateur weather observer.  He compiles and emails these data to people who signed up to receive it (you can find links to the group at the end of this posting).  

The data come from the NWS and his own weather station.  


••• March 2012 almanac •••
Average highs: 50.0     Normal: 44.9     Departure: +5.1
  Notes: 8th mildest March highs in 41 years and mildest since 2007;
breaks run of 4 cooler-than-normal Marches; 4th straight month overall
with above-normal highs

Average lows: 29.0     Normal: 23.7     Departure: +5.3
   Notes: 2nd mildest March lows in 41 years, next only to 1986
(29.1); 3rd consecutive month overall with above normal low temps

Highest temperature: 72 on the 31st
Lowest temperature: 1 on the 2nd

Precipitation: 1.17     Normal: 1.00     % of normal: 117
     Notes: 3rd of past 4 Marches with above normal precip

Snowfall: 7.5     Normal: 5.9     % of normal: 127
     Notes: 11th most March snowfall in 41 years and most since 2008;
breaks run of 3 Marches and 4 months overall with below normal snow

Days with measurable precipitation: 13     Normal: 8.2     % of
normal: 158
High precipitation day: 0.32 inch on the 16th
Days with measurable snowfall: 4
High snowfall day: 2.5 inches on the 1st

Lowest wind chill: 1 degree on the 2nd
Highest wind gust: 48 mph on the 31st
Number of windy days: 14
Days at zero or below: 0     Normal: 0.4
Number of days: cloudy, 6; mostly cloudy, 14; partly cloudy, 4; fair,
Heating degree days: 791     Normal: 950
     Notes: 16.8 percent lower heating demands than normal in March

••• March monthly records •••
Highest high temperature, March: 72 on the 31st
     Ties record from March 28, 1986; and March 30, 1986

Highest low temperature, March: 45 on the 31st
     Breaks record of 43 from March 11, 1995; March 24, 1998; and
March 31, 1978

••• March 2012 daily records •••
High temperature: 24th     68     Breaks record of 66 from 2004
High temperature: 25th     69     Breaks record of 68 from 1999
High temperature: 31st     72     Breaks record of 71 from 2004
Highest low temperature, 14th     40     Breaks record of 37 from 2003
Highest low temperature, 15th     41     Breaks record of 33 from 2009
Highest low temperature, 16th     41     Breaks record of 38 from 2009
Highest low temperature, 17th     37     Ties record from 2009
Highest low temperature, 30th     40     Breaks record of 37 from 1978
Highest low temperature: 31st     45     Breaks record of 43 from 1978

No precipitation or snowfall daily records were set or tied in March

••• Annual scoreboard •••
2011-12 water year precipitation – through 6 months: 5.46
Normal: 5.95     % of normal: 92

2009 annual precipitation – through 3 months: 2.89
Normal: 2.80     % of normal: 103

2009 precipitation days: 29     Normal: 26.1     % of normal: 111

2009 heating degree days: 3146     Normal: 3539
   Notes: 11.1 percent higher lower demands than normal to date this

••• March 2012 highlights •••
     • Last month I noted that the “high pressure” days had dropped
from 81 percent in December to 71 percent in January, to 52 percent in
February. The percentage plummeted to 23 percent in March, with high
pressure in place no more than three days in a row. We had plenty of
storms pass through the region.

     • Those storms increased in frequency as the month progressed.
Our first two storms were classic Pacific systems that brought
primarily snow. About mid-month the storms started rolling in from a
more southerly orientation and brought mostly rain. And that precip
came in swarms – six straight days of measurable precip from the
14th-19th, and then after a six-day break we closed the month with
measurable precip on five of six days.

     • With the southerly flow came milder temperatures, particularly
at night. We broke daily records for mildest minimum temps on four
straight days (14th-17th), later basked in four consecutive days of
mid-to-upper 60s that included two record-breakers (24th-25th) and
finished March with two more record-breaking days. The 31st was the
mildest March day on record in Rexburg, with a high of 72 (tying a
record set in 1986) and low of 45 (breaking a March record by 2

     • Not surprisingly with all these rceords, we were a scant 0.1
degree from breaking the March record for highest average minimum
temperatures. Our maximum temps were above average by more than 5
degrees from the monthly record.

     • Yes, it also was windy, but at 14 windy days still two short of
the March record. So far in 2012 we have recorded 25 windy days. At
this pace we’ll end up with 100; the record, set both in 2010 and
2010, is 95 days.

••• Winter of 2011-12 summary •••
Average temperature: 28.55     Normal: 25.88
Rank: No. 7 mildest in 41 years and mildest since 2002-03
Past four winters: 24.93 (2010-11), 24.57 (2009-10), 26.40 (2008-09),
23.88 (2007-08)

Seasonal snowfall: 30.0     Normal (through March): 55.3
Rank: No. 6 lightest in 41 years and least since 2002-03
Past four winters, through March: 75.9 (2010-11), 52.0 (2009-10), 65.4
(2008-09), 83.6 (2007-08)

Days at zero or below: 5     Normal: 17.6
Rank: No. 2 lowest total in 41 years, next only to 2002-03 (3)
Past four winters: 15 (2010-11), 22 (2009-10), 12 (2008-09), 17

General snow cover: Dec. 31-Jan. 10 (11 days)
     Notes: This is tough to determine, for we didn’t have consistent
snow cover most of the winter. This was the longest period with
general snow cover.
Final snowmelt from my yard: Feb. 21
     Notes: Again, tough to tell, but this is when all but human-
created piles of snow had departed.
Maximum snow depth: 4 inches on February 1

   Summary: This was far from the La Niña-influenced winter we
anticipated. Like much of the rest of the country, we enjoyed mild
temperatures and light snow – barely half the normal amount through
March. November’s and December’s close-to-normal temperatures morphed
into well-above-normal (in January and March) and moderately above
normal (February) temps the rest of winter. After flirting with
records for least amount of seasonal snow through January, we’ve had
near-normal snow since then, though it didn’t usually stick around

••• A strange year, indeed •••
     Exhibit 1: A few weeks ago I was listening to an internet stream
of WBUR from Boston. I thought I heard the announcer state a current
temperature of 82 degrees – in late March! Not possible! I looked it
up on the NWS’ web site, and sure enough, Boston was above 80 a few
days removed from winter. The official high that day was 84 degrees!

     Exhibit 2: I read a story the other day announcing that the
United States was an average of 8.6 degrees above normal for March.
(We in Rexburg didn’t quite pull our weight, coming in at just 5.2
degrees above normal.) This was the warmest March on record
nationally, and not by a small margin.

     Exhibit 3: The wildfire season is starting not in Arizona and
Texas but the Northeast. That’s right – the nation’s biggest blazes
right now are burning in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and New
York, places that might not see major wildfires once in a generation.

••• Looking ahead •••
     Mid-range forecasts have us high (in temps) and dry for the next
few weeks. The latest 30- and 90-day predictions don’t see strong
tendencies in temps but move us toward a dry late spring and early
summer. The long-lead forecasts trend toward a warmer than normal
summer, with lesser tendencies leaning toward drier than normal.

     And one parting note: Our brief appearance on the national
Drought Monitor map is over with for the time being. However, most of
northern Utah still is listed as D1 (Moderate Drought).

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