National Climate Report - March 2014
Maps and Graphics
Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
Major climate events NOAA is closely monitoring:
- Drought in the West, Southern Plains, Midwest. Long- and short-term dryness will likely increase wildfire risk and impact water resources and agriculture.
- Spring flooding. According to NOAA's National Weather Service, there is moderate flood potential in the Midwest and Northern Plains due to above-average snow pack and frozen soils. Additionally, flooding is anticipated in northern New England. Late-season ice cover of lakes and rivers will cause an elevated risk of ice jams during the spring melt.
- Frozen Great Lakes. Unseasonably large ice cover in the Great Lakes will limit water loss due to evaporation but will also impact commercial shipping.
Supplemental March 2014 Information
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for select U.S. cities
- Year-to-date precipitation evolution for select U.S. cities
- Spring (March-May) temperature and precipitation trends
- Great Lakes ice cover
- March daily temperature extremes
- Climate Highlights — March
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during March was 40.5°F, 1.0°F below the 20th century average. This was the 43rd coldest March on record, and the coldest since 2002.
- Below-average temperatures dominated the eastern half of the contiguous U.S. during March. The largest departures from average occurred across the Great Lakes and Northeast, where nine states had temperatures that ranked among their 10 coldest on record. The persistent cold resulted in nearly two-thirds of the Great Lakes remaining frozen into early April.
- Vermont had its coldest March on record, with a statewide temperature of 18.3°F, 8.9°F below average. The previous coldest March in Vermont occurred in 1916 when the monthly average temperature was 18.6°F.
- Maine and New Hampshire each had their second coldest March on record, while Michigan and New York had their fifth coldest. Massachusetts and Wisconsin had their eighth coldest March, Connecticut its ninth coldest, and Pennsylvania its 10th coldest.
- Most locations from the Rockies westward had above-average March temperatures. California had its ninth warmest March, with a statewide temperature 4.7°F above average. No state was record warm for March.
- Across the nation during March, there were five times as many record cold daily maximum and minimum temperatures (5822) as record warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures (1149).
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during March was 30 percent above average and the 26th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
- The March national precipitation total was 2.29 inches, 0.22 inch below the 20th century average, and the 41st driest March on record.
- The Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest were much wetter than average during March, with Montana and Washington having their third wettest and sixth wettest March on record, respectively. Conversely, much of the central U.S. and Midwest was drier than average. Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois each had a top 10 dry March.
- On March 22nd, a large landslide impacted the Stillaguamish Valley near the town of Oso, Wash., causing at least 30 fatalities. Washington's Climate Division 3, in which the landslide occurred, observed its wettest March on record. Its 8.67 inches of precipitation during March was more than twice the monthly average.
- According to the April 1 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up from 35.9 percent at the beginning of March. Beneficial precipitation fell in California during March, but did little to improve drought conditions — 23.5 percent of the state remained in the worst classification of drought ("exceptional"). Drought conditions intensified across parts of the Central and Southern Plains and expanded into parts of the Southeast.
- According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, March snow cover extent across the contiguous U.S. was the 22nd largest in the 48-year period of record at 845,000 square miles, about 104,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. Above-average snow cover was observed across the Northern Plains and Rockies, Midwest and Northeast where numerous storms brought heavy snowfall during the month. Below-average snow cover was observed for most of the West and southern Rockies due to season-long snow deficits.
- Several inches of snow and sleet fell on the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii near the end of March, closing roads. Six inches of snow was measured above 13,000 feet.
- Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January – March)
- For the first three months of 2014, below-average temperatures were widespread in the eastern United States. Twelve states, from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast, had three-month temperatures that ranked among the 10 coldest on record. The largest cold departures from average occurred across the Great Lakes region due to persistently below-average daily temperatures. No state had its coldest January-March on record.
- The West was warmer than average during January-March. Nevada, Oregon, and Utah each had one of their 10 warmest on record. Arizona and California were record warm for the period, with temperatures 5.2°F and 5.6°F above average, respectively.
- Collectively during the year-to-date period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 34.4°F, 0.8°F below the 20th century average. This marked the 41st coldest January-March on record and the coldest since 1985.
- Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-March was 34 percent above average and the 17th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
- Alaska had its third warmest January-March on record, behind only those of 1981 and 2001, with an average temperature 6.3°F above the 1971-2000 average. The statewide average precipitation during January-March was 6.1 percent below average, ranking as the 29th driest such period in the 96-year period of record.
- January-March precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. was 5.90 inches, 1.06 inches below average, marking the 14th driest such period on record, and driest since 2009.
- The Central and Southern Plains and Southwest were much drier than average during the first quarter. Seven states, from Arizona to Missouri, had three-month precipitation totals ranking among the 10 driest on record. The Northern Rockies and Northwest were wetter than average, with Montana having its eighth wettest January-March.
- Beneficial rains reduced drought coverage across Hawaii during the first quarter, with 14.4 percent of the islands in moderate to extreme drought at the end of March compared to 49.5 percent of the state at the beginning of the year. Extreme drought (D3) persisted through March on central Molokai, where low water levels in the Kualapuu Reservoir have forced mandatory irrigation restrictions.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date was the 11th highest on record for the period at 145 percent of average. Elements that contributed to the above average USCEI included the spatial extent of cold maximum and minimum temperatures, warm maximum temperatures, one-day precipitation totals, and the spatial extent of drought. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation, and drought across the contiguous United States.
- Climate Highlights — cold season (October 2013 – March 2014)
- The average contiguous U.S. temperature during the cold season was 38.2°F, 0.4°F below the 20th century average. This was the 32nd coldest October-March on record and the coldest since 2000/01.
- Similar to the past several months, below-average temperatures were widespread across the eastern United States. Ten states, from Minnesota to Louisiana, had six-month temperatures that ranked among the 10 coldest on record. It was warmer than average in the Southwest, where Arizona and California had one of their 10 warmest October-March periods. No state was record cold or record warm.
- Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during October-March was 26 percent above average and the 22nd highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
- The average contiguous U.S. precipitation during the cold season was 12.37 inches, 1.33 inches below the 20th century average, the 22nd driest such period on record and the driest since 2000/01.
- Below-average precipitation was observed across much of the West, southern Rockies, and Central and Southern Plains. October-March represents the first six months of the water year in the West. California had its third driest October-March on record, with a statewide precipitation total of 9.35 inches, about 50 percent below average.
- The Northern Plains and Rockies were wetter than average during the cold season, with much of the precipitation falling in the form of snow, contributing to the moderate spring flood risk across the region. South Dakota had its fifth wettest cold season, while Wyoming had its sixth wettest and North Dakota its 10th wettest.
- The USCEI during the cold season was near average for the 6-month period. Elements that were above average included the spatial extent of cold maximum and minimum temperatures and days with precipitation.
**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (nClimDiv), the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index page.**
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
- Alaska had its 25th warmest March since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.77°F (0.98°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 3rd warmest January-March since records began in 1918, with a temperature 6.34°F (3.52°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 14th driest March since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -36.41% below the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 29th driest January-March since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -6.11% below the 1971-2000 average.
For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page.
These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.
- Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- Colder-than-normal temperatures lingered through March in the Northeast. With an average temperature of 27.2 degrees F (-2.7 degrees C), it was 7.2 degrees F (4.0 degrees C) below normal, making it the 6th coldest March in 120 years. All twelve Northeast states were colder than normal, with eleven ranking March 2014 among their top 20 coldest. At 10.1 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) below normal, Vermont had its coldest March on record. Maine, at -9.2 degrees F (-5.1 degrees C), and New Hampshire, at -8.7 degrees F (-4.8 degrees C), had their 2nd coldest March on record. Departure for the rest of the states ranged from -8.1 degrees F (-4.5 degrees C) in New York to -4.5 degrees F (-2.5 degrees C) in Delaware. Looking at the Northeast's 35 airport climate sites, Caribou, ME and Washington Dulles, DC had their coldest March on record. In addition, Baltimore, MD and Atlantic City, NJ set records for all time daily low temperature for March, while Washington Dulles, DC tied its all time daily low temperature for March.
- Overall the Northeast was drier than normal during March, with 3.23 inches (82.04 mm) of precipitation or 92 percent of normal. Seven states were drier than normal, with Pennsylvania and West Virginia the driest at 75 percent of normal precipitation. Departures for the other dry states ranged from 89 to 95 percent of normal. Massachusetts wrapped up March at normal, while four states were wetter than normal. Departures for those states ranged from 107 percent of normal in Vermont to 124 percent of normal in Rhode Island, making it the state's 17th wettest March on record.
- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor released on March 6, parts of northern New England, southern New England, New York, and Pennsylvania (totaling 4 percent of the Northeast) were abnormally dry. Those areas remained dry through the month.
- A winter storm from March 12-13 dropped up to 26 inches (66 cm) of snow, 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) of ice, and nearly 2 inches (50.8 mm) of rain on the region. Wind gusts of up to 66 mph (29.5 m/s) caused tree and structural damage and triggered ground delays and stops at major Northeast airports. Buffalo, New York, reported blizzard conditions for the second time this winter. That is the first time the city has had blizzard conditions twice in a winter since recordkeeping began, according to NBC News. From March 25-26, a powerful nor'easter affected the region. The brunt of the storm was felt along coastal regions of Massachusetts and far eastern Maine. While snow totals were generally less than a foot, strong winds created problems. In Massachusetts on the 26th, wind gusts up to 83 mph (37.1 m/s) were reported on Nantucket Island, while gusts to 71 mph (31.7 m/s) were reported along Cape Cod. Blizzard conditions occurred for up to 7 hours in those areas. Coastal flooding, beach erosion, downed tree, and power outages also occurred. A storm at the end of the month brought up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) of snow and nearly 6 inches (152.4 mm) or rain to the region. Flooding occurred as waterways spilled their banks, while flash flooding made roads impassable and left cars stuck in up to 3 feet (0.9 m) of water in some areas. With multiple snowstorms during the month, Washington Dulles, DC had its snowiest March on record. The site accumulated 19.8 inches (50.3 cm) of snow during the month, beating the old record of 15.5 inches (39.4 cm) set in 1993.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- March temperatures were below normal across the Midwest. Temperatures ranged from 4 to 6 degrees F (2.2 to 3.3 C) below normal in the southern third of the region down to 10 to 12 degrees F (5.6 to 6.7 C) below normal in the northern third of the region. This was the fifth straight month with below normal temperatures for the region as a whole. Each of the nine Midwest states has been well below normal in each month of 2014. Monthly statewide temperatures have been at least 4 degrees F (2.2 C) colder than normal in each of the first three months of 2014 in all nine Midwest states. The string of below normal monthly statewide temperatures ranges from three months for Ohio and Kentucky to six months for Iowa and Missouri.
- March precipitation was below normal for nearly the entire Midwest. Rainfall totals were as much as 2 inches (51 mm) below normal in Missouri, southern Iowa, and southwest Illinois. For the Midwest as a whole, March ranked in the driest 10 percent for the 120 years back to 1895. Iowa (8th) and Illinois (10th) also ranked in the driest 10 percent while all the other states except Kentucky were among the driest 25 percent. Despite the low precipitation totals, snowfall was above normal for many Midwest locations. The cold weather led to a higher percentage of the precipitation in the Midwest to fall as snow this March compared to normal.
- As spring planting approaches, drought conditions remain in parts of the western half of the Midwest. Moderate drought areas extend into parts of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Severe drought was only reported in Iowa. The eastern half of the region was drought free. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky had no areas of abnormally dry according to the US Drought Monitor.
- The cold winter and early spring have led to deep snow cover across the northern Midwest and thick ice on lakes in the northern states. Snow cover has retreated to the northern half of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan but the remaining snow is deeper than normal for this time of year with depths ranging from 6 inches (15 cm) to more than 3 feet (91 cm). The thick ice on lakes is up to several feet thick (91 cm or more) in some cases and the lakes are not likely to be ice free until after their median ice out dates.
- Severe convective weather was absent for most of March. The only days with severe weather were the 27th in Missouri and Iowa and the 31st in Minnesota. On the 27th in Missouri, there were numerous reports of large hail along with some wind damage and a tornado that touched down in three counties in the northwest part of the state. Also on the 27th, a tornado touched down in south central Iowa. On the 31st in Minnesota, a tornado touched down in the southwest part of the state. The tornado was interesting as March tornadoes in Minnesota are relatively uncommon and also because it occurred in a county that had an active blizzard warning in effect. The blizzard conditions occurred slightly to the north of the tornado marking the 11th blizzard of the season in the Red River Valley.
- For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Mean temperatures in March were below average across much of the Southeast region. The greatest departures were found across central and northern portions of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, where monthly temperatures were 4 to 6 degrees F (2.2 to 3.3 degrees C) below average. Washington Dulles Airport recorded its coldest March in a record extending back to 1962. Monthly temperatures were generally 1 to 3 degrees F (0.5 to 1.6 degrees C) below average across the remainder of the region, except across South Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where mean temperatures were near average to slightly above average for the month. After tying its third warmest February on record, San Juan, PR tied its fourth warmest March in a record extending back to 1898. The warmest weather across the Southeast occurred on the 11th of the month, as maximum temperatures reached 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) as far north as central Virginia, which was more than 20 degrees F (11 degrees C) above average. In contrast, the coldest weather occurred on the 4th of the month in the wake of a winter storm. Washington Dulles Airport recorded a minimum temperature of -1 degree F (-18.3 degrees C), which tied the lowest temperature ever recorded in March, while Augusta, GA failed to reach 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C), marking the first such occurrence in March at that location in over 30 years. The passage of a strong cold front in the days prior resulted in a 24-hour temperature drop of more than 40 degrees F (20 degrees C) in some places from the 2nd to the 3rd of the month. In addition, a surge of arctic air near the end of the month resulted in subfreezing temperatures as far south as the Florida Panhandle on the mornings of the 26th and 27th.
- Monthly precipitation was below average across much of the Southeast in March. The driest locations were found across northern sections of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and southwestern North Carolina, where monthly precipitation deficits of 2 to 4 inches (50.8 to 101.6 mm) were observed. Precipitation was also below average along the northern and eastern coasts of Puerto Rico, with San Juan recording its fifth driest March on record. In contrast, some locations recorded above average precipitation for the month, including portions of central Alabama and North Carolina, as well much of the Florida Panhandle. The wettest locations were found in northwest Florida from Pensacola to Tallahassee, as well as along the west coast of Puerto Rico, where monthly precipitation totals were between 8 and 12 inches (203.2 and 304.8 mm). For the second straight year, the Southeast experienced several rounds of winter weather in March. On the 3rd and 4th of the month, between 1 and 3 inches (2.5 and 7.6 cm) of snow fell across central portions of North Carolina and Virginia, while up to 9 inches (22.9 cm) of snow fell across northern Virginia. On the 6th and 7th of the month, a major winter storm dumped between 5 and 7 inches (12.7 and 17.8 cm) of snow across central and western portions of Virginia, and more than 10 inches (25.4 cm) across the higher elevations of western North Carolina. This storm also resulted in ice accumulations of 0.25 to 0.50 inches (0.6 to 1.3 cm) along the I-40/85 corridor through central North Carolina. Wind gusts in excess of 40 mph were also observed, resulting in greater damage to trees and power lines. Several counties in central North Carolina have been granted federal disaster assistance to help in the clean-up and recovery. On the 17th and 18th of the month, between 7 and 14 inches (17.8 and 35.6 cm) of snow fell across parts of northern Virginia, while up to 0.20 inches (0.51 cm) of freezing rain fell across parts of central North Carolina. Finally, a storm system on the 25th of the month dropped between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 and 15.2 cm) of snow across parts of western Virginia and northwestern North Carolina, and up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) across the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. For the month, Washington Dulles Airport recorded 19.8 inches (50.3 cm) of snow, breaking the previous March record of 15.5 inches (39.4 cm) set in 1993. The number of days with measurable snowfall in March was also noteworthy across several locations in the region. For example, Boone, NC recorded 9 days with measurable snowfall, second only to March 1960 with 16 days. Glasgow, VA, located northeast of Roanoke, also recorded 9 days with measurable snowfall, breaking the previous record of 6 days set in March 1978.
- There were 87 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in March, with at least one report on 8 of the 31 days. On the 6th of the month, a line of strong thunderstorms resulted in damaging wind and at least three weak (EF-0) tornadoes across parts of central and southern Florida. Fallen trees from severe thunderstorms were to blame for two deaths in central North Carolina on the 12th of the month, while wind damage to trees and power lines, as well as flash flooding from heavy thunderstorms, was reported across parts of southern Alabama, Georgia, and northwest Florida on the 16th of the month. The final round of severe weather occurred across central portions of North Carolina and Florida on the evening of the 29th, resulting in wind damage, flooding, hail, and three EF-0 tornadoes (two near Raleigh, NC and one near Orlando, FL).
- Small changes were noted in the Drought Monitor across the Southeast in March. An area of moderate drought (D1) emerged across extreme northwestern Alabama, while small areas of abnormally dry conditions (D0) were introduced across central Alabama, northern Georgia, and extreme southwestern North Carolina where precipitation deficits and reductions in stream flows in recent months have been greatest. The cold weather in March delayed the planting of some field crops in Georgia and may have caused damage to peaches. While the dry conditions across the state allowed farmers to prepare fields for the planting season, heavy rains and flooding across parts of the Florida delayed fieldwork and reduced hay supplies.
- For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
- March 2014 was another chilly month for the High Plains Region. The first two days of the month were filled with record setting cold as many daily maximum and minimum temperature records were broken. One interesting record came from Grand Forks, North Dakota (period of record 1893-2014). On March 1, Grand Forks had a high temperature of only -11.0 degrees F (-23.9 degrees C). This not only set a new record lowest maximum temperature for the day, but also for the entire month of March. The old record of -6.0 degrees F (-21.1 degrees C) set on March 23, 1974 was crushed! Ultimately, most of the first week of March was extremely cold for the eastern half of the Region with temperature departures ranging from 15.0-25.0 degrees F (8.3-13.9 degrees C) below normal across the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas. Following the general pattern from last month, northwest flow brought many cold snaps which resulted in below normal temperatures for the eastern half of the Region. Most of the western side of the Region was unaffected and ended the month near to above normal. In general, departures ranged from 4.0 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) above normal in the west up to 6.0 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) below normal in the east. The largest departures, up to 10.0 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) below normal, occurred in northeastern North Dakota; however these were not record breaking. Again, take Grand Forks for example. The month was 7.4 degrees F (4.1 degrees C) below normal, but this only ranked as the 28th coolest March on record there.
- It was a dry month for most of the High Plains Region. The majority of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas were quite dry with precipitation totals largely below 50 percent of normal. A large area of eastern Nebraska and central Kansas received at best 25 percent of normal precipitation. Now that winter is over, precipitation deficits can accumulate quite quickly and this lack of precipitation led to the reemergence of drought conditions in eastern parts of Nebraska and Kansas. Luckily the spring green-up is lagging due to the cooler temperatures and demand for water has not been high. One of the drier locations this month was Lincoln, Nebraska which tied for its 5th driest March on record with only 0.13 inches (0.3 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1887-2014). Not only was this the driest month in the past year, this was the driest month for Lincoln since October 2010. The driest March occurred in 1994 with 0.06 inches (0.2 mm). The only areas receiving ample precipitation were northern and central Wyoming and north-central Colorado. The northwest corner of Wyoming was particularly wet with precipitation totals over 200 percent of normal. One of the stations in Yellowstone National Park called Snake River had its 4th wettest March on record with 6.29 inches (16 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation (period of record 1905-2014). The record occurred in 1932 with 7.56 inches (19 mm). Although the month as a whole was on the drier side, there were some storm systems that impacted parts of the Region. For instance, the month ended with quite a storm for parts of the Dakotas. Snowfall totals of 6.0-10.0 inches (15-25 cm) were widespread with locally heavier amounts as well. The snow was accompanied by high winds which created blizzard conditions that made travel quite hazardous. I-29 was closed from South Dakota all the way to the Canadian border as was I-94 from Fargo to Jamestown. In addition, several school districts in both North Dakota and South Dakota either closed or had early release due to the conditions. The snowpack continued to build over the past month with both Colorado and Wyoming increasing their statewide totals. Like last month, the southern basins in Colorado were still running below average, but other basins were near to above normal. This brought Colorado's statewide average at the end of March to 114 percent - up slightly from last month's 111 percent. Meanwhile, every basin in Wyoming was above average with the statewide snowpack at 138 percent of average, also up from last month's 132 percent. This ample snowpack in the Rockies is in stark contrast to the past two years when the snowpack was well below normal. This snowpack may draw memories of the 2011 flooding, however that is rather unlikely at this time. The 2011 Missouri River flooding was due to a number of factors, of which the snowpack was only one. For instance, record May precipitation in Montana greatly contributed to the flooding. Also, this year there is additional flood storage as a result of the 2012 drought.
- The first month of spring did not bring much needed precipitation to the drought areas of the High Plains Region. Most areas of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. A large area of the eastern sides of Kansas and Nebraska received less than 25 percent of normal precipitation which led to degradations. Much of eastern Kansas went from abnormally dry conditions (D0) to moderate drought conditions (D1). The extreme drought conditions (D3) in the western part of the state expanded as well. In Nebraska, severe drought conditions (D2) expanded eastward and a new area of D1 developed in the southeast. The only areas with improvements were eastern Wyoming and central Colorado where ample precipitation has fallen. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released March 20th, current drought conditions are expected to persist across eastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas through June. Meanwhile, drought conditions may improve or be eliminated in other parts of Kansas and Nebraska. Further drought development is not expected at this time.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- Cold temperatures continued into March for the Southern Region, with all six states experiencing below normal temperatures throughout the month. The central portion of the Southern Region experienced the highest departures from normal, with stations in north eastern Arkansas averaging as low as 6 to 8 degrees F (3.33 to 4.44 degrees C) below normal. Other portions of the central part of the region saw temperature anomalies average between 4 to 6 degrees F (2.22 to 3.33 degrees C) below normal. This included eastern Oklahoma, north eastern Texas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and western Tennessee. Elsewhere, temperature averages were only slightly below normal, with most stations reporting between 0 to 4 degrees F (0 to 2.22 degrees C) below normal. This includes western Texas, western Oklahoma, eastern Tennessee, and southern Mississippi. The statewide average temperatures for the month of March are as follows: Arkansas averaged 46.60 degrees F (8.11 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 55.00 degrees F (12.78 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 51.70 degrees F (10.94 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 46.10 degrees F (7.83 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 45.10 degrees F (7.28 degrees C), and Texas averaged 54.90 degrees F (12.72 degrees C). Arkansas experienced its fourteenth coldest March on record (1895-2014), while for Louisiana, it was their fifteenth coldest March on record (1895-2014). Both Mississippi and Oklahoma experienced their twenty-first coldest March on record (1895-2014). It was the 25th coldest March on record (1895-2014) for Tennessee, and the thirty-fifth coldest March on record (1895-2014) for the state of Texas.
- The month of March was generally drier than normal for most of the Southern Region. Conditions were very dry throughout most of Oklahoma and especially in the western half of the state where precipitation totals ranged between 0 to twenty-five percent of normal Similar anomalies were also observed in the central to west central counties of Texas. Elsewhere, precipitation totals ranged from fifty to ninety percent of normal, with the exception of a few small areas that received normal to above normal precipitation. For instance, much of the southern half of Mississippi experienced a slightly wetter than normal March, with precipitation totals ranging from 100 to 130 percent of normal. This was also the case for the westernmost counties of Tennessee and portions of northern Arkansas. Precipitation was also reported to be above normal in the extreme south of Texas, and in parts of the Trans Pecos Climate Division. The statewide average precipitation totals for the month of March are as follows: Arkansas averaged 4.40 inches (111.76 mm), Louisiana averaged 4.30 inches (109.22 mm), Mississippi averaged 5.56 inches (141.22 mm), Oklahoma averaged 1.75 inches (44.45 mm), Tennessee averaged 3.67 inches (93.22 mm), and Texas averaged 1.07 inches (27.18 mm). For the state of Tennessee it was the twenty-fourth driest March on record (1895-2014). State rankings for the remaining five states fell within the two middle quartiles.
- Drought conditions in the Southern Region changed significantly over the past month. Persistently dry conditions in March, especially in western Oklahoma, northern Texas and central Texas, has led to an expansion of extreme drought. Last month, approximately six to seven percent of the Southern Region was in extreme drought or worse. As of April 1, 2014, that number has increased to just over seventeen percent. Much of north central Oklahoma has also been downgraded by one factor from moderate drought to severe drought. Other areas of drought change include northern Mississippi, where several counties are now experiencing moderate drought conditions.
- The month of March was a relatively quiet one in terms of severe weather. There were dozens of hail and wind reports on March 28, 2014. These occurred in eastern Texas, southern Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. Most of the wind damage in this area was restricted to trees and power lines, however, there were some reports of broken windows resulting from wind-driven hail.
- In Texas, on top of the long-term hydrological problems are new short-term drought effects. Businesses along lakefronts are hurting and hydropower coming from the Colorado River and Lake Texoma is at an all-time low due to continued low streamflows. Fire conditions in west Texas are starting to become more of an issue as temperatures begin rising, with two small grass fires already having occurred in Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Smith County. Farmers are worried that a new dust bowl may develop in the Panhandle due to record low rainfall, and continuous dust storms that have brought soil from the Panhandle all the way to Dallas, El Paso, and Austin (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- On March 3 a blast of cold air and a storm system through Texas brought icy conditions as far south as Houston, knocking power out for 26,000 people and wreaking havoc on roads. The cold, ice, and rain also decreased voter turnout for primary elections across the state with some offices electing to open late and close later in the day (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- A series of atmospheric river events brought above normal precipitation to the Northwest for the second consecutive month. The Southwest continued to see predominantly drier than normal conditions, though precipitation was more plentiful than in February. Temperatures were generally mild and seasonable throughout the West, with the Southwest experiencing slightly warmer than normal temperatures, and the northern tier of the region colder than normal temperatures.
- Many locations in the Pacific Northwest saw a top-10 wettest March this month. Seattle, Washington airport experienced its wettest March in a 67-year record at 9.44 in (240 mm) of rainfall, 5.72 in (145 mm) greater than normal. Portland, Oregon, tied 1957 for second wettest March since records began in 1938 at 7.52 in (191 mm), 3.84 in (98 mm) above normal. Wet weather continued for Montana as well, where Kalispell recorded 2.44 in (62 mm) this month, the 4th wettest march since records began in 1896. Much of Idaho also saw a wet month. Boise picked up 2.34 in (59 mm) precipitation for the 5th wettest March in the past 75 years. Northern California received above normal precipitation this month, slowing the loss of a meager and dwindling snowpack and reservoir storage. Over the course of March, Lake Shasta, California's largest reservoir, increased storage from 53% to 60% of the long term average. Across the West, snowpack generally increased or held steady as a percent of average through the month. The greatest gains in snowpack were observed in the northern Cascades and Rockies, while areas of the southern Rockies and mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico experienced a decrease. Despite this month's snowfall, a wide swath of below normal snowpack remains stretching from southern Oregon through California eastward to New Mexico. At month's end, California's statewide snow water equivalent was only 32% of average.
- A wet Pacific storm brought significant precipitation to the Southwest over the first two days of March, though little to no precipitation was recorded for the remainder of the month. Precipitation in Flagstaff, Arizona, totaled 1.24 in (31 mm), with 1.13 in (29 mm) falling on the first two days of the month. This was the 20th driest March since Flagstaff's records began in 1893. Below normal precipitation was observed in New Mexico as well, where Albuquerque recorded only 0.22 in (6 mm), 39% of normal. Las Vegas, Nevada, recorded no precipitation this month, tied with 6 other years for driest March since records began in 1937. Drier than normal conditions also prevailed in central and southern California, where Fresno logged 31% of its normal rainfall at 0.62 in (16 mm) for the 18th driest March in the last 67 years. Los Angeles recorded 1.18 in (30 mm) for the month, 49% of normal. All but 0.01 in (<1 mm) of this rainfall came over the first 2 days of the month. California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona all saw large areas of worsening drought conditions during March.
- Cooler than normal temperatures were observed in the northern tier of the West, while warmer than normal temperatures dominated across the Southwest. Cut Bank, Montana, recorded an average 25.3 F (-3.7 C) for the month, 6.2 F (3.4 C) below normal and the 25th coldest March in a 112-year record. Further south, temperatures in Salt Lake City, Utah, averaged to 49 F (9.4 C), 5.4 F (3 C) above normal and the third warmest March since records began in 1928. In central California, this March replaced March 2013 as Fresno's second warmest in a 67-year record at an average 62.4 F (16.9 C). In southern California, San Diego saw its warmest March on record at 64.1 F (17.8 C), 4.7 F (2.6 C) above normal. Records for San Diego began in 1939. Arizona saw warmer than normal temperatures as well. Phoenix recorded an average of 69 F (20.6 C), the 7th warmest March since records began in 1933 and the third consecutive month that average temperatures at Phoenix have been among the top-10 on record.
- After a drier than normal February, wet conditions returned to Hawaii's windward areas. Kahului, Maui recorded 3.75 in (95 mm) of precipitation this month, 153% of normal and the 18th wettest March in 80 years of record-keeping. Further north, this month was drier than normal for much of Alaska. Yakutat received 4.05 in (103 mm) of rainfall this month, 37% of normal and the 9th driest March since records began in 1917. McGrath also experienced its 9th driest March with 0.04 in (1 mm), 5% of normal. Records at McGrath began in 1939. Temperatures were near normal throughout Alaska, with a gradient of warmer than normal temperatures in the northwest to slightly cooler than normal temperatures in the southeast. Extreme warmth was observed along the North Slope, where Barrow recorded an average -4.8 F (-20.4 C) for the month, the 3rd warmest March in approximately 94 years of records. Barrow experienced its warmest January-March on record in 2014 with temperatures averaging -6.0 F (-21.1 C), exceeding the previous record of -7.3 F (-21.8 C) set for this period in 1963.
- March 22: Landslide near Oso, Washington: A series of heavy precipitation events in the northern Cascades over the past month primed the area for landslides. A large section of hillside above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River failed slid, resulting in at least 30 fatalities at report time, leveling of homes, and covering portions of state route 530. Rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts were still underway at month's end.
- Early start to Arizona fire season: Dry conditions this winter led to an early start to the fire season in the Arizona. The fire season typically begins in May, though 190 small fires had already occurred year-to-date by March 27.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.