March can a confusing time of the year for the weather. Meteorological spring began March 1st, but Astronomical Spring begins on the 20th. Does that mean winter is done in Maryland and surrounding regions? Hardly.
The biggest snowfalls are often in Feb. In fact Presidents Week hold 8 of the top 20 snowfalls. But March can hold a few big surprises. In fact 5 of the top 25 storms on Baltimore records fell this month. Check out the slide show for related images.
A list of some of the most notable March Snowstorms based on Baltimore records can be found below. If you are curious about the potential storm on the way this week, please read My Winter Forecasting Manifesto for my forecasting philosophy. For reference and other Baltimore snow history see these weather pages on my web site justinweather.com.
Notable March Snowstorms
March 1-2 2009
We only have to go back four years to find a similar winter to this one in 2008-2009. BWI had a seasonal total of 3.3" at the end of February, then more than doubled it with one storm on March 1-2 with 5.8". The snowfall on the 2nd was 4.7” and set a record for the date.
This Winter BWI has a current seasonal snow total of 4.8". Just food for thought. But what might get fellow snowhounds really charged up is that the following winter of 2009-2010 was our blockbuster 77 inches. One can dream of next year.
Superstorm of 1993:
The most famous in recent memory was that famous storm on March 12-14, 1993. That system brought a range of 1-3 feet in central Maryland and record Low Pressure at BWI. The official Baltimore snow total was 11.9”. What may have gotten lost in the records was that the season was pretty quiet leading up to this. A little boost in February brought BWI up to 11.7", which was below normal. This one storm doubled the seasonal amount... but in some northwestern suburbs that seasonal total doubled or more.
Snowfall extended from Florida to Maine. This topped the ranking at 5 on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NSIS).
As an added bonus, I found some vintage Weather Channel coverage that storm. What a difference two decades can make on production quality, huh? See that video clip below.
Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962
This storm holds the anniversary of our potential this week, falling 51 years ago on March 6-8. This dropped a daily record of 10 inches on Baltimore’s BWI on March 6th. This storm also resulted in 60 mph (96 km/h) winds and 25 ft waves hitting Ocean City.
Palm Sunday Blizzard of 1942
The latest big storm in the season for Baltimore also holds the rank of #6 all time dating back to 1880. This storm would have climate folks in an uproar today. It dropped over 20 inches of snow across all of metro Baltimore including Anne Arundel, Harford, Baltimore, Howard and Carroll Counties.
- BWI officially had 22 inches for the storm. The 1 day total of 21.9 on March 29th is still the all time record for the month, let alone latest in the season.
- The top amounts included 36 inches at State Sanatorium in Frederick County, and 36 inches at Edgemont in Washington County.
- Westminister had their elevation to help boost 32 inches
- Clear Springs recorded 31 when just 12 days earlier the temperature had reached 79F.
In fact, looking at the climate records for Baltimore, 17 days out of 31 have record snows over 5". So while the average high temperature climbs into the 50s, winter still hangs on. The return of warmer air from the south can hold more moisture then mid winter, which can contribute to big events should the temperatures hold out.
So is a snowstorm possible in March? For sure! Is it a guarantee? Not exactly. Even with potential snow, there are a few factors that could impact stickage.
· Higher sun angle
· Cold clouds/SNOWFALKES
· Snow falling at night has a better chance to stick
· Chance of Stickage during the day improves with heavier snow rates. 1/2" an hour helps. 1"+ an hour would overcome any warm ground or mid day sun angle.
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