Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Not the March of the Penguins

Today's temperature map shows signs of the coming season as the 60-degree line reaches the Virginia-North Carolina border. Closer to home, temperatures in the Washington DC metro area are in the low 50s at mid afternoon. Cloud cover has increased, but the nearest showers on radar are in far southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Temperature chart at 3pm today from Unisys

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight will be cloudy with a 25% chance of showers; lows will be near 40. Temperatures will rise with a southwesterly breeze tomorrow as clouds decrease after a slight chance of showers early in the day. The exact high will depend on how much sun breaks through in the afternoon; anywhere from 62 to 67 is quite possible.

March Snow chart from NWS data, photo © Kevin Ambrose

Despite the chilly start, this month is not looking like the March of the penguins. I'm sure Josh will have more to say about this in his post tonight. Meanwhile, a look back shows that while it is relatively rare, March snow in Washington is not unique. The average March total for the entire period of record in Washington (downtown and airport) is only 1.6". On the other hand, every date in March has seen a snowfall of at least 1.5" at some point. Interestingly, the highest daily total of 11.5" fell as late as the 29th in 1942. That storm also accounted for the entire month's total that year.

This decade has been particularly scanty, with an average monthly total in March of less than 0.2". The last century closed out with 8.7" in 1999, but the last time 10" or more fell was in 1960, when the second-highest March total of 17.1" occurred, including the record for the date of 7.1" on the 3rd. Today's record snowfall was 5.8" in 1911. That month had a total of 8".

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