Cold Holds On
March temperatures were colder than normal across the Midwest
(Figure 1). In the southern third of the region departures were 4° to 6°F below normal while in the northern reaches of the Midwest departures were 10° to 12°F below normal. The cold meant many northern lakes were still frozen over and likely to remain so well past their median ice out dates. Ice thickness, due to the cold winter and early spring, is impressive with some lakes reporting ice 3 to 4 feet thick.
Dry But Snow Lingers in North
Precipitation totals were below normal for nearly all of the Midwest in March (Figure 2). Snow totals were still above normal for many locations due to the colder than normal temperatures. Still, the seasonal warming meant snow cover pulled back to the north during the month with just the northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan retaining snow by the end of the month
(Figure 3). The remaining snow depths in the north were still impressive with depths of 6" to 36" in these areas.
Severe Weather at the End of the Month
Severe weather was absent through the 26th of the month for the entire Midwest. On the 27th (Figure 4), severe storms affected parts of Iowa and Missouri. Dozens reports of hail 1" or greater in diameter and a handful of wind damage reports were submitted in Missouri. In addition, there were tornado reports in southern Iowa
(Clarke County) and northwest Missouri
(DeKalb, Daviess, and Grundy counties). The tornadoes caused structural damage to buildings but there were no injuries reported. On the 31st
(Figure 5), a tornado touched down in Yellow Medicine County in southwest Minnesota. The tornado was unusual for two reasons. First, tornadoes in March are relatively uncommon in Minnesota and second, there was a blizzard warning in effect for the county. Blizzard conditions were reported to the north of the storm, marking the 11th blizzard of the season in the Red River Valley.
Drought Conditions in the West
Moderate drought was still affecting parts of the western half of the Midwest as the season turns to spring
(Figure 6). Two pockets of severe drought were located in Iowa where precipitation has been lacking this winter. The eastern half of the Midwest is in better shape with Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio completely free of drought and even abnormally dry areas.
The Indiana State Climate Office also contributed to this report.
The Iowa Climatology Bureau also contributed to this report.
The Minnesota State Climatology Office also contributed to this report.
The Missouri Climate Center also contributed to this report.