Back to winter

By Russell Russ

With February’s record warmth, you would have thought March would follow suit and spring would be just around the corner. The first day of March was warm, the warmest day of the month actually, but it was back to winter after that. There were some nice early spring days, but a majority of the month was cold. Most local lakes and ponds had lost their ice in late February only to get it back again in early March. The larger lakes began opening up late in the month, but Tobey Pond and many other smaller ponds stayed ice covered into April.

March is typically the big maple syrup producing month in Norfolk, but this year it was too cold for sap flow during a good portion of the month. In the end, it turned out to be about an average maple syrup year in Norfolk. The top story of the month was the blizzard that hit on March 14. Snowfall depths ranging between 14 and 22 inches were reported in the Norfolk area. Conditions were bad with much blowing and drifting, but forecasts were for more snow than we actually received, so it could have been worse.

March’s high temperature of 59 degrees was observed on March 1 and the low of 1 degree was observed on March 5. With an average mean temperature of 27.7 degrees, it was 3 degrees colder than normal. There were no daily record highs or lows. It was the sixteenth coldest March over the last 86 years.

The total precipitation for the month was 3.20 inches, 1.23 inches below normal. Not record setting, but it did add to our slow growing yearly deficit. Through the first quarter of 2017 the total precipitation amount was 9.42 inches, 2.65 inches below normal.

The monthly snowfall total was 21.2 inches, 3.7 inches above normal. Interestingly, there was no snow on the ground until March 10. The blizzard on March 14 produced varying snowfall amounts. The total blizzard snowfall at the weather station was 15.9 inches over two days, but there were people that reported up to 22 inches in and around Norfolk. The blizzard contained heavier snow bands, much like summer thunderstorms, and it depended where the heavier bands happened to hit. Had it not been for this one storm, March’s monthly snowfall would have been well below normal.

Unlike last year, which was the least snowy winter season on record, this winter season, October through March, was just about normal. Through March, this winter’s snowfall amount was 87.3 inches, 3.8 inches above normal.

An early look at April showed it to be fairly normal through mid-month. Most area ponds had lost their ice for the season by April 5. The early February warmth had pushed budding and blooming a little ahead of schedule, but a cool March kept things in check. Spring really is now just around the corner and it will not be long until everything greens up once again. Enjoy the early warm days before the blackflies come out, but watch out for ticks who are already here.