March is traditionally a wildcard for weather in Rochester, Western New York and the Finger Lakes. Just one look at the month’s extremes say it all. The highest temperature on record for the month is 84 degrees, while the lowest is -9 degrees. That’s a 93 degree spread! Basically, in any given March, our area can be subjected to everything from bitter blasts to balmy breezes!
We also typically see our fair share of tempestuous weather. On average, March delivers a total of 16.3″ of snowfall. If you’ve lived here long enough, it won’t take you long to think about how many big storms blast through the region. The March Ice Storm of 1991 was a storm no one in Rochester will forget. There’s also the “Superstorm of 1993″ which happened in March. 23.2” of snowfall was measured in the wake of that historic storm from March 11 through the 13th. Rochester’s second highest wind gust on record also took place in March of 2017 when, on the 8th, a peak gust to 81 mph was clocked at the Greater Rochester International Airport.
This year, the “March lion” has largely “meowed” more than roared. Yes, we’ve seen our fair share of typical high March winds, but the meteorological players generating those scenarios were hardly unprecedented.
Even more interesting is just how little shivering we’ve done. The jet stream remained largely in a similar configuration and place as it has for the last two months. Mild air intrusions have largely outnumbered cold intrusions, and thus, we’ve seen a March that has, so far, averaged nearly 7.5 degrees warmer than normal per day! Only two days have averaged colder than normal with all the other days being warmer with some being warmer than normal by a large margin!
Adding to the mild March picture has been the lack of snowfall. It truly has been at a premium with just 3.3″ measured at the airport. This represents a large departure of more than a foot! It also would rank, were the month to end today, one of the top ten least snowy Marches since weather records began in Rochester back in 1871.
Tack on the fact that the arrival of the Vernal Equinox this Thursday will be the earliest arrival in 124 years, and, bingo, you have the ultimate definition of what I would call an early Spring. This year, the equinox happens on Thursday (the 19th) at 11:50 p.m. The last time Spring was that early was in 1896. Grover Cleveland was the President of the United States in that year, and a dozen eggs would have cost you 21 cents. So, yeah, it’s been a while!
Looking at the long range forecast, I do not foresee any large snow storms or massive cold snaps anytime soon. A rogue cold day or two is certainly not out of the question, but at this point, as has been the case much of the Winter, it is unlikely that a pattern would setup supporting a sustained caliber of cold.
These are extraordinary times. As we go through them together, it’s always important to look for all things that bring feels of positivity. Hopefully the idea of an early Spring meteorologically and chronologically invokes those feelings in you!
Meteorologist Josh Nichols