March 2017 Summary – Colder than Winter

Photo of aurora over Mount Katahdin in Maine on 30 March 2017 courtesy of and

Blue Hill Observatory
March 2017 Summary:

March was unusually cold with  near average precipitation and snowfall. The 24-hour mean temperature for the month of 31.6 deg F was 4.1 degrees colder than the 120-year average for March and nearly three degrees colder than the 1981-2010 30-year average. For only the fourth time in 132 years and the first time since 1984, March was colder than February. March was also colder than the preceding winter (Dec-Feb) mean temperature for the first time since 1959-1960. In a different measure, March was also colder than all three individual winter months that preceded it, and this has only happened once before in 1936-1937. The first ten days of the month alternated between warm and cold, then the rest of the month was near or colder than average. The highest temperature of the month was 61F on the 1st, and the lowest temperature was 4F on the 12th. The daily high temperature of 20F on the 11th tied the daily record low maximum temperature for the date previously set in 1885. March brought a total of 4.84 inches of precipitation, which was a quarter of an inch more than the long-term 120-year average, though it was three-quarters of an inch less than the 30-year mean. The greatest amount in 24 hours was 2.14 inches on the 14th, during a significant snow storm that also brought the greatest snowfall in 24 hours of 7.3 inches. That amount set a new daily snowfall record for the 14th, surpassing 6.7 inches in 1958. A rain storm on the 27th-29th brought 1.31 inches of rain and thunderstorm days on both the 28th and 29th. A significant storm closed the month with nearly an inch of liquid precipitation and an inch of snow and sleet occurring on the 31st. Snowfall for the month totaled 11.4 inches, which was an inch less than the long-term mean and just a fraction of an inch less than the 30-year normal. The mean wind speed was 14.6 mph, and the prevailing direction was from the west. The peak gust was 60 mph from the northeast during the snow storm on the 14th. Despite the cold, March was sunnier than average with 191.5 hours, or 53 percent of the possible bright sunshine, which was four percent more than the long-term mean.

BHO Lowest Mar-Feb 24-hour Mean Temperature Difference, deg F (1885-2017):

1) -5.4 in 1984
2) -3.1 in 1960
3) -2.2 in 2017
4) -0.3 in 1937
5) +0.8 in 1890
   +0.8 in 1997
7) +0.9 in 1939
8) +1.2 in 1954

BHO Lowest Mar-DJF 24-hour Mean Temperature Difference, deg F (1885-2017):

1) -2.3 in 1936-1937
2) -1.7 in 1959-1960
3) -1.4 in 1905-1906
4) -1.3 in 1932-1933
   -1.3 in 2016-2017
6) -0.9 in 1915-1916
7) -0.8 in 1889-1890


Mike Iacono
Chief Scientist
Blue Hill Observatory