Another Warmer Than Normal Month
By Russell Russ
March was warmer than normal, just like January and February were. What happened to winter in this part of the world? For most of this winter there has been little snow, frequent days with above average temperatures and no real cold temperatures. By late February many people had given up on any chance for winter weather and by the middle of March everyone had given up. With winter being a no show, it must mean spring is just around the corner. By early March it felt like spring was already here. Spring had other thoughts and with everyone focused on COVID-19 the warm and sunny spring weather that seemed eminent just never materialized. Norfolk’s late March weather was more like normal late March weather.
Figuring pond ice in and out dates this winter proved to be very frustrating. Generally speaking, the smaller ponds iced over by December 1 and went out by March 4 and generally stayed ice covered for the duration. The local larger bodies of water, like Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake, began icing over December 5, but never fully iced for good until about January 21. Both Tobey and Wangum were mostly ice free by March 8, about two weeks earlier than normal. Much to the dismay of fans of ice skating and ice fishing, it was a short pond ice season, but it was not all that surprising based on the above average temperatures all winter.
March’s low temperature of 12 degrees was observed on March 1 and the high of 65 degrees was observed on March 9. With an average monthly mean temperature of 36.1 degrees, it was 5.4 degrees above normal. This March was the tenth warmest March over the last 89 years. Norfolk’s warmest March was in 2012 with 41.8 degrees, the coldest was 1960 with 21.2 degrees.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.36 inches. This was 1.02 inches below normal. Not record worthy, but it is the third month in a row in 2020 that has been below normal for total precipitation. Norfolk’s driest March was in 1981 with 0.64 inch, the wettest was 1953 with 10.37 inches. Through the first quarter of 2020 the total precipitation amount was 8.61 inches, 3.45 inches below normal. A deficit is slowly growing.
The lack of significant and lasting snowfall continued to be one of the main weather themes for the month, and for this winter for that matter. March’s snowfall total of 9.3 inches was 8.5 inches below normal. As of March 22 with just 2.4 inches of snowfall it would have been the sixth least amount on record for March, but with an additional 6.9 inches recorded by March 31, it ended up being just the nineteenth least amount for March over the last 89 years. Norfolk’s snowiest March (and snowiest of any month) was in 1956 with 73.6 inches. March 1946 with a total monthly snowfall of just 0.5 inch holds the record for least amount.
Through the first quarter of 2020, the total snowfall amount was just 23.6 inches. This was 35.3 inches below normal. Yes, that is nearly three feet below normal in just three months. The 2019-2020 winter season (October-March) snowfall total through March was 49.6 inches. This was 33.6 inches below normal. Without December’s good effort of 20.8 inches of snowfall, which was 4.0 inches above normal, then this winter would really be near the top of the list for least snowfall for a winter season. As it is, through March, this winter is sitting as the eighth least snowy winter season over the last 89 years.
April and May still count towards winter snowfall totals and with April’s weather acting more like March or even February, it seems that instead of a no show, this winter is trying to be a late bloomer. At this late point in the season, most people likely feel that this is just downright depressing. Mother Nature can be annoying sometimes.
Through two-thirds of the month, April was running 2.6 degrees below normal for temperatures, about normal for total precipitation and interestingly 0.6 inch above normal for snowfall. The 4.6 inches of snow that fell on April 17-18 was unusual, even for Norfolk, but it was not unheard of for Norfolk and certainly no record for Norfolk. The snow squall that blew through town with a strong cold front during the afternoon of April 21 was quite a surprise, but even that 1.1 inch snow burst was not record setting. The temperature drop of 11 degrees in twenty minutes that afternoon was just amazing. Mother Nature can be amazing sometimes. The outlook for late April and early May appears to be cool with more chances for a little snow. Spring-like weather will come, it is only a matter of time.