March Madness of Weather

The big NCAA basketball tournament gets underway on Thursday, so what better time than any to dive into the roller coaster type weather that is on tap for North Central Wisconsin in the days ahead.  First lets reflect on the nice climb in the afternoon readings since the start of the month.  The mercury making it to the 40 degree mark was the first milestone of the season as high pressure built into the western Great Lakes to kick off March.  By the time we pulled into the first weekend of the month, that sun did a number on the snowpack, cutting it from around 10-12" down to around a half foot or less.  Of course, as the snow goes down, the easier it is for the mercury to rise.  Sure enough highs made it into the 50s by that Sunday.  Then Mother Nature decided to throw clouds and some wet weather our way for much of the second week of March.  Highs remained relatively mild, and the light to moderate rain did its part to erase much of the rest of the snow that was on the ground.  Once the sun finally broke out again this past Sunday the 14th, it was up and away for the daytime highs.  We eclipsed 60 and fell just short of record highs in many locales by just a few degrees.  Of course that warm weather continued into Monday, with highs peaking once more above 60.  So leading up to this point, every day so far for March has had above average temperatures.  How warm has been it compared to average?  Here are the stats through March 14th:

Now if you have spent any time in the Badger State during the month of March, you are well aware of the fact that there are some ups and downs in the weather.  Back in 2000, spring weather arrived early in the month leading to highs well into the 70s, before a round of severe weather knocked us back to reality.  Also we have had bouts of cold, with highs on 4 days during the first half of March 2009 not getting out of the 10s.  Last but not least are those snowstorms.  According to the record books, the biggest blast of snow to hit Wausau was in 1959 when 22.1" of snow fell over a 2 day period.  More recently in 1997 a storm produced nearly 13" of snow on March 13th & 14th.  Also of note is that 5 out of the top 12 snowfalls in March took place between March 9-18th.  I don't think that we are on track for a doozy of a snowstorm this coming weekend, but certainly there is the potential for some accumulation.

A cold front is expected to slip through the Badger State Thursday, likely putting an end to the mild stretch of weather that we have enjoyed. 

Update 3/19/10:

Sure enough we had a delightful stretch of warm weather in North Central Wisconsin with highs in the 60s from Sunday through Thursday.  Wausau even set a record high on Thursday with the mercury topping out at 62 (which was a degree lower than the previous 3 days).  No less, a strong cold front blew through the area Friday morning and promptly pushed temps back through the 40s and into the 30s by late afternoon.  This seasonably chilly stretch will hang on into Saturday, before the sun helps to pull readings back to around 50 from Sunday into the first few days of the upcoming work week.  Also of note we did dodge the bullet of messy winter weather as low pressure ended up staying to our south.  Folks in Oklahoma and Kansas on the other hand are getting one last gift from winter with accumulating snow.  It does appear we should remain relatively dry at least through Tuesday.  Temperatures will fluctuate as is expected in March, but I don't think we'll be making it to any record highs for the next 7 days.

By the way, the Vernal Equinox (aka Spring) officially gets underway at 12:32pm on Saturday.  Just in time for winter to make a comeback :-)

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