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Weather History: March 31: Record temps, storms, snow, tornadoes, wind & floods

Meteorological events that happened on March 31st:

Four feet of snow was still on the ground at Gardiner, ME following the snowiest March on record.

St. Louis, MO was buried under 20 inches of snow in 24 hours, making this snowstorm their worst in history.

A tornado moved north, hitting along the edge of Kiowa, KS. This tornado tore apart five homes, and destroyed the railroad depot on the edge of town. Downburst damage was extensive in town, making life miserable for the "boomers" that were waiting for the opening of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma.
A tornado killed nine people and injured 60 others in the town of Towanda KS, located about 20 miles northeast of Wichita.

This month was quite warm in Oklahoma City, OK. Many daily records remain on the books, including three daily high temperature records and six daily records for the warmest low temperature. The hottest temperature ever recorded in March also occurred during this year: 97° and the warmest low temperature ever recorded in March: 68°. Overall, the month ranked as the second warmest March ever; with an average temperature of 59.5°, slightly more than nine degrees above normal.

Yosemite Valley, CA hit 90°; their warmest for so early in the season.

On the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, at Gibraltar 4.53 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

37 people were killed and 170 were injured as an F4 tornado moved through Jones, Jasper, Clarke counties in Mississippi.

107 inches of rain fell during the month at Puu Kukui at Maui, HI to set the U.S. record for rainfall in one month. The same place also holds the annual rainfall record for the United States with 578 inches in 1950.

The temperature at Rio Grande City, TX hit 108°, which for 30 years was a U.S. record for the month of March.

A round of severe storms caused damage across much of Oklahoma. In Noble and Pawnee Counties, tornadoes caused damage to farms, while in Shawnee, a golf ball sized hailstone knocked one person unconscious. Baseball size hail fell in Thackerville, with some stones as large as 11 to 12 inches in circumference. This created holes in roofs, windshields, and even produced craters in the ground.

17 people were killed by a tornado at Milton, FL, making it Florida's worst tornado disaster. The F3 tornado ripped through the town killing 17 people and injuring 100 others. Damage was set at $1.5 million dollars.

St. John's, Newfoundland Canada hit 65°, their warmest March day on record.

Palm Springs, CA hit 104° and Palomar Mountain, CA hit 82°; both March high temperature records.

A strong cold front moving through Colorado produced wind gusts to 92 mph in the South Hills area of Boulder and to 83 mph at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder. Stapleton Airport in Denver reported a gust to 41 mph.

Three F4 tornadoes swept across Georgia and South Carolina. The first storm cut a 33 mile path though Georgia, killing one person and causing $75 million dollars at Conyers. The second tornado touched down near where the first twister dissipated and moved northeast for 35 miles. Heavy damage was reported at Athens with two fatalities. The two storms caused $113 million dollars in total damage, the most expensive natural disaster in the history of Georgia. Seven people were killed by the third tornado, which touched down in South Carolina, including four people who were killed in a motel just east of Calhoun Falls, SC. The entire building was blown across a highway and strewn across a field.

Austin, MN had their warmest March temperature ever when they hit 79°.

South Bend, IN had their warmest March temperature ever when they hit 85°.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains were in the midst of their longest continuous snowstorm. The storms would bring 15 1/2 feet of snow to the Sierras from March 27th through April 8th. Donner Pass in California was closed to rail traffic for eight days after the major snowstorm brought the winter's accumulation total to 796 inches, second only to the 819 inches that fell in the winter of 1931-1932. The avalanche danger reached an extreme. A massive avalanche buried the closed Alpine Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe, CA, trapping several employees and killing seven of them.

Heavy snow fell as a late winter storm which brought several inches of wet heavy snow to parts of the upper Midwest. The heaviest accumulations of near 10 inches occurred in west central Iowa and more than six inches fell from Hawarden to Glenwood, northeast to Estherville and Waukon. In addition 10 inches of snow was common in northeast Nebraska and 10 inches also fell in Yankton, SD. Snowfall totals included: Jump River, WI: 11 inches, Lake City, MN 9 inches, Mondovi, WI: 8 inches, Decorah, IA: 7.5 inches, Rochester, MN: 7.4 inches, Austin, MN: 7 inches, Harmony, MN: 7 inches, Cresco, IA: 6 inches, Dorchester, IA: 6 inches, New Hampton, IA: 6 inches, Osage, IA: 6 inches, Caledonia, WI: 6 inches, Cashton, WI: 6 inches and Genoa, WI: 6 inches.

Fort Wayne, IN recorded their warmest March temperature ever when the mercury soared to 81°. Jump River, WI soared to 79°; also a record high for the month of March.

March went out like a lion in the northeastern U.S. A slow moving storm produced heavy snow in the Lower Great Lakes Region, and heavy rain in New England. Heavy rain and melting snow caused catastrophic flooding along rivers and streams in Maine and New Hampshire. Strong southerly winds ahead of the storm gusted to 62 mph at New York City, and reached 87 mph at Milton, MA.

A waterspout moved onshore at Buxton, NC on Hatteras Island during the early morning hours. Seven people were hurt and damage was $800,000 dollars.

March went out like a lion in eastern Colorado. A winter storm produced 42 inches of snow at Lake Isabel, including 20 inches in six hours. Fort Collins reported 15 inches of snow in 24 hours. Albuquerque, NM received 14 inches of snow. Winds gusted to 80 mph at Centerville, UT.

Afternoon thunderstorms produced severe weather from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. Thunderstorm winds gusted to 76 mph at Cape Henry, VA. While squalls blanketed northwest Pennsylvania with up to 9 inches of snow, thunderstorms in eastern Pennsylvania produced golf ball size hail at Avondale.

Borrego Springs, CA tied their March high temperature record as they hit 101°. This also occurred on 3/27/1988.

The month of March went out just as it came in, like a lamb. Marquette MI, which started the month with a record high of 52°, and ended by equaling their record for the date with a reading of 62°.

Las Vegas, NV recorded 4.80 inches of rain during the month which set two records: the wettest March ever breaking the old record of 1.83 inches set in 1973 and the wettest month ever breaking the old record of 3.39 inches set in September 1939. The normal yearly rainfall for the city is only 4.19 inches.

Seattle, WA closed out its first snowless winter ever (November through March).

March ended another month of extreme dryness. The period from July 1995 through March 1996 was the driest period ever at many locations across western Kansas, with records dating back 120 years. The wheat crop was almost completely wiped out by the drought.

Record heat prevailed across the northeastern U.S. Record high temperatures for the month of March were set at Boston, MA and Windsor Locks, CT: 89°, Portland, ME: 88°, New York City: 86°, Massena, NY: 85°; breaking their previous record by 18 degrees, St. Johnsbury, VT: 83° and Montpelier, VT: 80°. The state record high temperature for March for Vermont was set when Union Village hit 88°.

Flooding in northern Tenerife in the Canary Islands killed eight people. At Santa Cruz in the northern part of the island an incredible 8.83 inches of rain fell in just three hours.

St. John, New Brunswick Canada recorded 4.14 inches of rain in 30 hours ending on this date. The average March rainfall here is 4.41 inches.

2.44 inches of rain fell at Havana, Cuba in 12 hours. The average March rainfall here is 1.80 inches.

Miles City, MT tied their March high temperature record as the mercury soared to 83° while Sheridan, WY broke their record with 80°.

Lightning killed five rice farmers and injured five others while harvesting rice at Hung Thanh, Vietnam.


At Jacksonville, Florida International Airport, the record streak of days with high temperatures below 80° came to an end at 105 days, exceeding the previous record streak by two days. The 80° high temperature on this date was also Jacksonville's first of the year. The previous latest first 80-degree reading occurred at the airport on 3/14/1978.


Death Valley, CA set their March high temperature record with 103°.


The monthly average temperature in March finished colder than in December 2012, January and February 2013 at Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and West Palm Beach in south Florida. This is a rare occurrence not seen at Fort Lauderdale, Naples and West Palm Beach since March 1949 and Miami in March 1937.


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Orlando, FL area weather with Dr. Steve Oliver at

Houston, TX area weather & the weekly Weather America Newsletter with Larry Cosgrove at

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