March 2019: Chilly, very dry, normal snowfall

March 2019 came into town as a tamed lion but exited like a lamb. Cold temperatures and quiet weather were in play across southern New Hampshire to begin March, but winter-like weather would take hold not far into the month before spurts of spring would arrive later in the month.

Colder-than-normal temperatures would dominate through the first half of March.

The cold would peak on March 7 when the monthly low of 4 degrees occurred, and the daily average temperature departure was 17 degrees below normal.

Canada’s cold-making machine continued to supply plenty of polar and arctic air across the nation during March, and New England was not completely left out. While the Northern Plains continued to suffer through a severely cold, snowy winter, the Northeast got off pretty easy with temperatures just a little colder than normal.

The jet stream continued to guide some of the Midwest and Canadian cold in our direction well into March, but from mid-month onward, we started to see spring temperatures occasionally as the jet stream started to shift northward.

Above and below normal temperatures changed places almost daily during the second half of March. The mildest day came on the final day of the month when the daily average was 14 degrees above normal.

The average temperature for March recorded at the Pennichuck Water Works was 32.9 degrees, 1.7 degrees below normal. March ranked in a tie for 55th coldest out of 126 Marches, with temperature data for Nashua.

Rather dry weather was noted during March. The main storm track brought mostly misses to southern New Hampshire and resulted in the 21st-driest March out of 136 years of records for Nashua.

The majority of the precipitation fell as snow with two moderate snowfalls during the first half of the month. A strong storm would take a nearly ideal track for a major precipitation event on March 22 but would only produce 0.21 inches in Nashua.

This storm would produce heavy snows across northern New England, where more than 2 feet would fall across the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. For Nashua, this storm was a dud in the precipitation department but brought strong and gusty winds that produced downed trees and some power outages through the area.

The precipitation total for March was 1.87 inches, 2.49 inches below normal. For 2019, the precipitation total of 9.89 inches is 1.19 inches below normal.

Nashua’s snow total for March of 12.0 inches was 1.3 inches above normal. All of the measurable snow fell with two moderate-sized storms early and mid-month. One storm from the March 3 into the March 4 dropped well over a foot across much of eastern Massachusetts but spared Nashua where only 7 inches was tallied.

March’s snow total ranked in a tie for 38th snowiest out of 110 years of March snowfall records. The season snow total through the end of March stands at 41.5 inches, 12.6 inches below normal.

While this snow season may be down a little in the local area, the average for the current decade is up. The average of 62.1 inches for the 2010s is 7.2 inches above the long-term normal.

During the 27-year period beginning with the 1992-93 season, snowfall has averaged 6.8 inches above normal for Nashua. Three of these snow seasons saw more than 100 inches of snowfall on Nashua. Between 1900 and 1991, only two snow seasons saw more than 100 inches of snow.

While southern New Hampshire has seen the season’s snowfall a little below normal this year to date, northern New England has had a banner year. This has been a great year for the ski industry with deep snow all winter long.

A sampling of snow totals to date from some of our northern neighbors show 53 inches at our state capitol in Concord, 102 inches at Danbury, located just north of Lake Sunapee, a surplus of 10 inches. Berlin has tallied 110 inches so far, about 2 feet above normal.

Portland, Maine, has seen 66 inches for the season, a surplus of 5 inches. Burlington, Vermont has shoveled 104 inches of snow, 2 feet above normal. Caribou, Maine, has seen its third snowiest season of record so far with 165 inches, 5 feet above normal.

For sunshine fans, March was the fourth-straight month with above normal sunshine from the only station recording this parameter in New England, the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts. Fifty-nine percent of the possible sun was recorded at Blue Hill during March, 11 percent sunnier than normal.

After one of the dreariest falls of record, the past four months have seen sunshine average at 56 percent of normal, 8 percent above normal.

April’s weather is generally known for being cloudy, damp and chilly at times. Snow is not uncommon during April, but amounts are usually not heavy and occur mostly during the first half of the month.

On average, April and May are the cloudiest months of the year across New England, due to a high occurrence of easterly winds off the cold, moist Atlantic Ocean.

Wildfires can be a potential problem during April. Before the new season’s vegetation comes alive, there exists a great amount of dry leaves and grass that can easily catch fire on some of the sunny, dry days that can occur this time of year.

Warm weather during April typically comes in short spurts of a day or two. During these periods, temperatures can shoot up into the 70s and 80s. Don’t get used to it, because a wind switch into the east or southeast can send temperatures tumbling in a hurry.