March 2014 Summary – Cold with Little Snow


Blue Hill Observatory
March 2014 Summary:

The month was notable for many cold days and much below average snowfall.  The 24-hour mean temperature for the month of 31.1F was 3.3 degrees colder the 120-year average for March, and this was more than 4 degrees colder than the 1981-2010 30-year average.  In terms of this monthly mean, this was the coldest March since 1984.  However, the average minimum temperature for March of 22.0F was the coldest since 1960 and was the 10th coldest on record. There were 20 days colder than normal during the month including 11 days with double digit negative departures. There were a few breaks from the cold with eight days reaching into the 50s. The maximum temperature for the month was 57F on the 28th, and the coldest temperature was 6F on the 4th.  There were no daily temperature records. The frequent cold also meant very dry air was common, and the average water vapor pressure for the month, 3.7 mb, tied for the second lowest value in March since 1932. The total precipitation for March of 5.03 inches was about one half inch more than the 120-year average and about one half inch less than the 1981-2010 mean.  The monthly precipitation disguises that fact that much of the month was dry with only 1.06 inches over the first 28 days. The remaining 3.97 inches fell during a heavy rain storm on the last three days of the month that also brought a small amount of snow and sleet. This heavy rain event also brought about the spring thaw of both local ponds on March 30th. This was the latest thaw date for each pond since they thawed on April 2nd, 2005. The thaw date for Houghton’s Pond this season was nine days later than the long-term average date. The number of days that Houghton’s remained frozen this season, 107 days, was the longest interval since it remained frozen for 114 days during the winter of 2002-2003.  Snowfall was very infrequent during March and totaled only 3.0 inches, which was about 9 inches less than the long-term average. A powerful Atlantic storm (pictured above) that brought blizzard conditions to Cape Cod on the 26th left only 0.1 inch of snow on Blue Hill.  The mean wind speed for March of 13.1 mph was the third slowest on record for the month, and the prevailing wind direction was NW. The peak wind gust for March was 54 mph from the NW on the 26th during the passage of the large ocean storm.  The month was slightly cloudier than average, with a bright sunshine total of 47 percent of possible, which was two percent less than average. (Satellite image of the March 26 ocean storm is from NASA/MODIS)