National Overview - March 2013


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

Maps and Graphics

Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
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National Overview:



March Extreme Weather/Climate Events

Supplemental March 2013 Information


  • Climate Highlights — March
  • The March average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 40.8°F, which was 0.9°F below the 20th century average. This was in stark contrast to temperatures from one year prior when March 2012 was the warmest such month on record for the nation. 2013 marked the coolest March since 2002, when the monthly nationally-averaged temperature was 2.2°F below average.
  • Much of the eastern U.S. was cooler than average during March, with the exception of New England, which was slightly warmer than average. Eleven states in the Ohio Valley, along the Gulf Coast, and in the Southeast had March temperatures that were among their ten coolest. In fact, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina had March 2013 temperatures that were cooler than January 2013.
  • The Arctic Oscillation (AO) is a measure of pressure patterns across the Arctic and can relate to temperatures in the middle-latitudes, including the U.S., during the winter and spring months. The AO was in a strongly negative phase during most of the month. The monthly-averaged AO index was the most negative value on record for March and was associated with the prolonged cold air outbreak that impacted states from the Canadian border to the Southeast.
  • Temperatures were above average for parts of the West. Arizona, California, and Nevada each had March temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Above-average temperatures were also observed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho,Utah, and New Mexico.
  • The March average precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 1.68 inches, 0.72 inch below average, and the fifth driest March on record. This marked the driest March since 1966, when the nationally-averaged precipitation total was 1.51 inches.
  • A large area of the contiguous U.S. had near- to below-average precipitation totals during March. The West, Southern Plains, Gulf Coast, and Northeast were particularly dry. Louisiana had its fourth driest March, with 31 percent of average precipitation for the month. Wyoming tied its fifth driest March, with 47 percent of average precipitation. Minnesota was the only state with above-average March precipitation.
  • Several storms impacted the U.S. bringing late-season snowfall to the eastern two-thirds of the country. According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the March snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was nearly 1.0 million square miles, 239,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average, and the 10th largest March snow cover extent in the 47-year period of record. However, snowpack, an important water resource in the West, was below-normal in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as well as the Central and Southern Rockies.
  • Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 127 percent of average during March and the 31st highest value in the 119-year period of record. This was the highest REDTI value for March since 1996.
  • According to the April 2 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 51.9 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 54.2 percent at the end of February. Drought conditions improved in parts of the Southeast, as well as the eastern edge of the core drought areas in the Central and Southern Plains, due to increased precipitation over the past three to six months. Drought remained entrenched across the rest of the Great Plains and interior western states.
  • Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January — March)
  • The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. for the year-to-date period was 35.8°F, 0.5°F above average. Much of the nation had near-average January–March temperatures. The Northeast and parts of the Northern Rockies were warmer than average, while the interior western states and parts of the Mid-South were cooler than average.
  • The nationally-averaged precipitation total for the year-to-date period was 6.04 inches, 0.60 inch below average.
  • The West, Northeast, and Florida were drier than average for the three-month period. California had its driest January-March on record with a precipitation total 8.53 inches below the long-term average of 11.48 inches. Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming also had one of their ten driest year-to-date periods on record.
  • Wetter-than-average conditions were present for parts of the Midwest and Southeast. Michigan had its tenth wettest January-March with precipitation 136 percent of average.
  • Climate Highlights — cold season (October 2012 — March 2013)
  • The U.S. cold season, defined as October–March, was 1.1°F warmer than average, with a nationally-averaged temperature of 40.3°F. A large area of the country had near-average temperatures during the six-month period, while the Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast were warmer than average. Vermont experienced its eighth warmest cold season, with an average temperature 3.6°F above average.
  • The cold season was drier than average for the nation as a whole, with a precipitation total of 12.16 inches, 0.95 inch below average. Drier-than-average conditions were present from the West Coast, through the Mountain West and into the Central and Southern Plains. Above-average precipitation was observed in the Midwest, the central Gulf Coast, and Mid-Atlantic.
  • The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was below average during the cold season. However, the component that examines the spatial extent of drought was three and a half times the normal value for the six month period and the third largest value in the 103-year period of record. Only the cold seasons of 1953/54 and 1934/35 had larger drought components of the USCEI.
  • The REDTI value for the cold season was 79 percent of average and ranked as the 25th lowest value for the October-March period.

Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:

  • Alaska had its 48th warmest March since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.3°F (0.7°C) below the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 21st warmest January-March since records began in 1918, with a temperature 2.9°F (1.6°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 31st wettest March since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 25.0 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 15th wettest January-March since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 41.3 percent above the 1971–2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the Climate Summary page". For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.


Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

  • Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Cooler than normal temperatures prevailed for nine of the twelve Northeast states during March. With an average temperature of 33.3 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) it was 1.3 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) below average in the Northeast. In terms of departure from normal, West Virginia was the coldest state at -5.4 degrees F (-3.0 degrees C), making it their 13th coldest March in 119 years. Departures for the rest of the cool states ranged from -4.3 degrees F (-2.4 degrees C) in Maryland, its 23rd coldest, to -0.6 degrees F (-0.3 degrees C) in Rhode Island. Of the warm states, Maine had the greatest departure from normal. At +3.9 degrees F (+2.2 degrees C) above normal, it was the 21st warmest March since 1895 in the state. Departures for the other two states were +1.5 degrees F (+0.8 degrees C) in Vermont and +1.2 degrees F (+0.7 degrees C) in New Hampshire.
  • Dry conditions lingered into March across the Northeast. Receiving 2.39 inches (60.7 mm) of precipitation, 68 percent of normal, the region had its 17th driest March on record. All states were drier than normal with departures ranging from 51 percent of normal in Rhode Island to 80 percent of normal in West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Four of the twelve Northeast states ranked March 2013 among their top 22 driest: New York, 12th; Pennsylvania, 13th; Connecticut, 21st; and New Hampshire, 22nd.
  • Abnormally dry (D0) conditions persisted through March in northeastern New York and along the Vermont-New Hampshire border. According to the US Drought Monitor issued on April 2, 2013, “parts of the lower Northeast have received 2 to 4 inches less precipitation than normal since the beginning of the year, so abnormal dryness was expanded into these regions.” The regions referred to include portions of southern New York, a large swath of Pennsylvania, portions of western New Jersey, and part of one county in Connecticut.
  • A potent winter storm trekked across the Mid-Atlantic and up the New England coast from the 6th through the 8th dropping over a foot (30.5 cm) of snow in almost every state along the way. The greatest storm total snowfall of 29.8 inches (75.7 cm) was reported at Blue Hill, Massachusetts. Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph (27 to 31 m/s) were reported along the coasts of Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. A buoy located in the Delaware Bay southeast of Cape May, New Jersey, recorded its 2nd highest wave height in 29 years when the strong winds pushed seas to a height of 25.6 feet (7.8 m) on the 6th. Wind-whipped seas also caused coastal flooding and beach erosion from Delaware to Maine. Major airports reported delays of up to 3.5 hours. Ten days later, on the 18th, several of the same locations that had been hit hard by the last storm received another 12+ inches (30.5+ cm) of snow. Behind the storm, lake-effect snows of up to 3 feet (91.4 cm) piled up east of Lake Ontario in New York. A storm from the 25th to the 26th brought up to 16 inches (40.6 cm) of snow to the highlands of Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The snow allowed several ski resorts that had planned to close to extend their season into April.
  • For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • March temperatures were well below normal across the Midwest averaging 30.4 degrees F (-0.8 degrees C) or 14th coolest dating back to 1895. Temperatures were 6.1 degrees F (3.4 C) below normal and 20.1 degrees F (11.2 C) cooler than last March. Statewide temperatures ranged from 2.8 degrees F (1.6 C) below normal in Michigan to 7.3 degrees F (4.1 C) below normal in both Kentucky and Iowa. Overall, seven of the nine states were at least 5.8 degrees F (3.2 C) below normal. Temperatures were not particularly extreme, but rather just consistently cooler than normal for most of the month. Just a few dozen daily record highs were recorded in March and record lows numbered over 400 with most occurring from the 17th to the 28th. The only breaks in the cold were during the second week of the month and again during the last few days of the month. This was a striking contrast to the record warmth in March 2012 when all nine states recorded their warmest March dating back to 1895, some breaking old statewide records by several degrees.
  • March precipitation was more varied with Indiana recording a statewide total more than an inch (25 mm) below normal while three states recorded above normal totals. Wetter than normal conditions were common in the western and southern parts of the Midwest especially in northern Minnesota and southern Missouri where totals exceeded 150 percent of normal. Drier conditions were generally in the northeastern Midwest including a large area with less than 50 percent of normal precipitation in a large part of Lower Michigan and northern sections of Indiana and Ohio. Snow totals were above average for most of the Midwest with some locations from Minnesota to Illinois to Ohio topping normal by ten inches (25 cm) or more. The snows came from several systems spread throughout the month with daily snow fall records (over 850 for the month) recorded somewhere in the Midwest on all but four days. Sixteen days recorded 10 or more records and over 300 records occurred from the 24th to the 26th.
  • Drought conditions improved according to the US Drought Monitor with the area in drought dropping from over 46 percent of the Midwest on February 26th to just over 33 percent on March 26th. Areas in severe (23 to 20 percent) and extreme (8 to 6 percent) drought also dropped in the same time period. During March, Illinois joined Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky as drought-free states. Missouri also saw a large decrease in drought during March. Michigan only had a tiny portion of the Upper Peninsula in drought. Minnesota, most of Iowa, and northwest Wisconsin had persistent drought.
  • Ample snow pack and persistent cool temperatures have created the potential for severe flooding on the Red River on the western border of Minnesota. Frozen soils will likely lead to substantial runoff of melting snow rather than infiltration into the soils. The later than normal snow melt increases the chances of heavy rain falling on top of the remaining snow which can lead to enhanced run off.
  • For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
  • Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Mean temperatures in March were below average across the Southeast region. The greatest departures were found across parts of western Florida, northern sections of Alabama and South Carolina, and central portions of Georgia and North Carolina, where monthly temperatures were 6 to 7 degrees F (3.3 to 3.9 degrees C) below average. Monthly temperatures were between 3 and 5 degrees F (1.6 and 2.8 degrees C) below average across the remainder of the region, except across Puerto Rico, where monthly temperatures were between 1 and 2 degrees F (0.5 and 1.1 degrees C) above average. Monthly temperatures were also slightly below average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearly 100 stations across the Southeast recorded one of their top 3 coldest Marchs on record, including Jacksonville, FL, which tied its coldest March in a record extending back to 1871, and Gainesville, FL, which recorded its second coldest March in a record extending back to 1890. Mount Mitchell, NC recorded its coldest March in a record extending back to 1980. For over 20 locations in the region, the monthly mean temperature in March was lower than the mean winter season (December-February) temperature. In some cases, this was the first such occurrence in over 50 years (e.g. Miami, FL, Columbia, SC, and Raleigh-Durham, NC). For the month, over 350 daily minimum and over 400 daily low maximum temperature records were tied or broken across the Southeast. Most of these records occurred from the 26th to the 30th of the month, as modified Arctic air overspread the region. Temperatures struggled to reach 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) across much of the Florida Peninsula, and overnight temperatures dipped below freezing as far south as Gainesville, FL. In general, temperatures during this 5-day period were between 10 and 20 degrees F (5.5 and 11.1 degrees C) below average across most of the Southeast.
  • Monthly precipitation was below average (50 to 90 percent of normal) across most of the Southeast in March, except across parts of the region that experienced severe storms, including northern Alabama, central Georgia and South Carolina, and northern Virginia. Between 2 and 3 inches (50.8 and 76.2 mm) of rain fell across portions of Alabama, Georgia, and northern Florida as a cold front moved through the region on the 11th and 12th of the month. A line of severe thunderstorms dropped as much as 3 inches of rain locally across parts of Alabama and Georgia on the 18th of the month. The same weather system also produced up to 2 inches of snow and some freezing rain across parts of northern Virginia. Another round of severe storms on the 23rd and 24th of the month dropped between 2 and 3 inches of rain across parts of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and as much as 4 to 5 inches (101.6 to 127 mm) across parts of the Florida Panhandle. In contrast, the driest locations in March were found across much of the Florida Peninsula and eastern North Carolina, where monthly precipitation totals were less than 50 percent of normal. Greenville, NC recorded its second driest March on record with 1.14 inches (28.9 mm) of precipitation (period of record: 1927-2013), while Miami, FL recorded just 0.81 inches (20.6 mm) for the month, which was more than 2 inches below normal. Monthly precipitation was variable across Puerto Rico, with above (below) average precipitation across the eastern (western) half of the island, while precipitation was generally above average across the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • For the second consecutive month, the Southeast experienced several rounds of winter precipitation. On the 2nd and 3rd of the month, between 1 and 3 inches (25.4 and 76.2 mm) of snow fell across northern sections of Alabama, Georgia, and across western and central portions of North and South Carolina, while up to 7 inches (177.8 mm) of snow was reported along the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians. Trace amounts of snow were also reported in central Georgia and flurries were reported as far south as Waycross, GA. On the 6th of the month, a major storm system dumped between 10 and 16 inches (254 and 406 mm) of snow across parts of central and northern Virginia as well as the higher elevations of western North Carolina. Southern portions of Virginia also reported up to 4 inches (101.6 mm) from this event. On the 21st of the month, between 1 and 3 inches of snow fell across some of the higher elevations of western North Carolina in the wake of a departing low pressure system over southeast Canada. Finally, a storm system on the 25th and 26th of the month dumped between 3 and 6 inches (76.2 and 152.4 mm) of snow across western North Carolina (up to 13 inches (330.2 mm) across the higher elevations) and as much as 5 to 7 inches across central and northern portions of Virginia. Up to an inch of snow was also reported across central North Carolina as well as northern parts of South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, including Atlanta. For the month, Mount Mitchell, NC recorded 39 inches (990.6 mm) of snow, the greatest March total at the summit since 2001.
  • There were 332 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in March, including seven confirmed tornadoes. Six of these tornadoes, three of which were rated EF-2, occurred across central and northern portions of Alabama and central Georgia on the 18th of the month. One of these tornadoes contributed to at least seven injuries in Marshall County, AL, destroyed at least two mobile homes, snapped and uprooted several trees and power lines, and caused significant damage to numerous other structures. Another tornado blew down and snapped thousands of trees across parts of Meriwether and Pike Counties in central Georgia. In Colbert County, AL, a tornado flipped over a mobile home and threw it into a stand of trees. In addition, several storm surveys conducted by National Weather Service offices in Alabama following these events reported damage consistent with straight-line winds in excess of 90 mph. On the 23rd and 24th of the month, severe weather affected the southern tier of the Southeast region, with numerous reports of high wind and large hail. A line of strong thunderstorms that moved across central Florida on the 24th forced the final round of the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to be moved to the 25th. During this event, the official weather station at the nearby Orlando International Airport recorded a wind gust of 86 mph, while baseball-sized hail (7.0 cm) was reported north of Gainesville. On the 31st of the month, a quasi-stationary frontal boundary contributed to light rain and fog across interior portions of the Southeast. Very dense fog on Fancy Gap Mountain in Carroll County, VA contributed to a 95-car pile-up along I-77, causing three deaths and numerous injuries.
  • Despite below-average precipitation across much of the region, drought conditions continued to improve in March, with as much as a 10 percent reduction in the area covered by drought between the beginning and end of the month. Most notably, the areas of severe drought (D2) across Georgia and South Carolina were eliminated. In Georgia, this marked the first such occurrence since September 2010. Small improvements in drought conditions were also noted across eastern sections of South Carolina and much of the Florida Panhandle. In contrast, the warmer and drier weather that has persisted across the Florida Peninsula for the past few months resulted in an expansion and intensification of drought, particularly across the northeastern part of the Peninsula. A wildfire in Hopkins Prairie west of Daytona Beach grew to nearly 2000 acres and destroyed as many as 10 homes in Marion County. In terms of agriculture, cold weather and heavy rain at the beginning of the month damaged as much as a quarter of the sweet corn crop and hampered the growth of green beans across South Florida. Additional cold spells and generally dry weather forced citrus growers to begin irrigating multiple times a week and slowed the growth of several vegetable crops. By the end of the month, many farmers in Florida were assessing crop damage from the cold weather, as well as from the hail and high winds associated with severe thunderstorms that raked the area.
  • For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • What a difference a year makes! Just last year, the High Plains Region had its warmest March on record and this year, a persistent and strongly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation kept temperatures well below normal - not just in the High Plains Region, but also for most of the country. Average temperatures ranged quite a bit from 3.0 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) above normal to 15.0 degrees F (8.3 degrees C) below normal. The southwest to northeast temperature gradient had most locations in Wyoming and Colorado around normal and the eastern half/northern parts of the Region well below normal. The Dakotas had the largest temperature departures in the entire country with 9.0-15.0 degrees F (5.0-8.3 degrees C) below normal. March ranked in the top 15 coolest for many locations in the northern tier of the Region. For example, Grand Forks, North Dakota had its 6th coolest March on record with an average temperature of 14.2 degrees F (-9.9 degrees C). This was an impressive 11.0 degrees F (6.1 degrees C) below normal but still a far cry from the coldest March on record (period of record 1893-2013). Grand Forks’ coldest March occurred in 1970 with an average temperature of only 9.6 degrees F (-12.4 degrees C). Another chilly location was Aberdeen, South Dakota which had its 7th coolest March with an average temperature of 19.8 degrees F (-6.8 degrees C). The record of 15.1 degrees F (-9.4 degrees C) was set back in 1897 (period of record 1893-2013).
  • Precipitation was varied across the Region this month. Generally, precipitation was below normal except for northern North Dakota, northeastern Colorado, and pockets of northwestern Wyoming and north-central and eastern Nebraska. Other areas were quite dry and received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. These areas included central and northern South Dakota, the panhandle and central parts of Nebraska, southern and eastern Wyoming, southern Colorado, and a swath from western Kansas through southeast Nebraska. The varied precipitation allowed for top 10 rankings on both the dry and wet sides. For example, a strip of central South Dakota received less than 25 percent of normal precipitation this month. One of the locations in that area was Pierre, South Dakota which had its 10th driest March on record with 0.15 inches (4 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation (period of record 1893-2013). The driest March occurred in both 1909 and 1918 with 0.02 inches (1 mm). Meanwhile, northern North Dakota had precipitation totals over 150 percent of normal. This month’s snowy spot was Williston, North Dakota and with 16.1 inches (41 cm) of snow, Williston had its 6th snowiest March on record (period of record 1894-2013). The 1975 record firmly held with 30.9 inches (78 cm). Even with the start of spring, snowpack continued to be of concern in the Rockies and also North Dakota. Unfortunately, snowpack in the Rockies continued to be lower than average. As of April 1st, the statewide Colorado snowpack was only 73 percent of average, down from 75 percent at the end of last month. Similarly, the statewide Wyoming snowpack was down 2 percent to 82 percent of average. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is a chance for flooding later in the season in the northern areas of the Region. Even though most of the Region was still dealing with the ongoing drought, northern areas of North Dakota have received above normal precipitation which has led to a solid snowpack with high water content. The April outlook shows cool and wet conditions for this area, which would delay the spring snowmelt. Usually, a delayed snowmelt leads to a more rapid thawing. In addition, heavy rain events could occur at the same time as the flooding from the snowmelt, exacerbating the situation. Because of these reasons, outlooks from the National Weather Service indicate that there is a potential for moderate to major flooding along the Red River of the North and the Souris River. Although precipitation totals fell short in many areas, there were still several storm systems that crossed through the Region. Early in the month, a major winter storm produced snowfall totals up to 18.0 inches (46 cm) in northern and eastern North Dakota. Not even a week later, southern parts of the Region had a storm pass through on March 9-10 which brought rain, freezing rain, sleet, heavy snow, and even thunderstorms. Storm totals topped out at just under a foot (30 cm) and winds of 30-40 mph (48-64 km/hr) caused near white-out conditions which closed parts of I-80 west of Lincoln and cancelled local events. Later, on March 19th a system caused many problems across eastern portions of the Dakotas. Schools were closed and travel became so treacherous that people had to be rescued from stranded cars on I-29 between Fargo and Wahpeton in North Dakota.
  • Just like February, there were only slight changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor over the past month. Approximately 91 percent of the Region was still in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought - exactly the same percentage as the end of last month. Precipitation was spotty, which allowed for only slight improvements. Some D4 areas in southern South Dakota, northeastern Colorado, northwestern Kansas, and small portions of Nebraska had a one-category improvement which reduced the D4 coverage from 27 percent to 22 percent. Small one-category improvements were also made in eastern Kansas and southwestern Colorado. Unfortunately, conditions worsened in northwestern South Dakota where extreme drought conditions (D3) expanded. Even with some slight improvements, Nebraska remained the hardest hit state with 76 percent of the state in the D4 designation. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released March 21st, drought conditions were expected to improve in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, most of Kansas, northeastern Colorado, and all but the southwest corner of Wyoming. Drought was expected to persist elsewhere through June 2013.
  • For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • With the exception of Texas and Oklahoma, March proved to be a much cooler month than expected. Temperature averages throughout the central and eastern portions of the region ranged between 4 to 8 degrees F (2.22 to 4.44 degrees C) below normal, with the coldest anomalies situated in north eastern Arkansas, and throughout most of Tennessee. Temperatures in Oklahoma typically averaged only slightly cooler than normal. This was also the case for much of eastern Texas. In the western counties of Texas, temperatures averaged only slightly above normal. The state average temperature values are as follows: Arkansas averaged 46.2 degrees F (7.89 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 55.2 degrees F (12.89 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 50.1 degrees F (10.06 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 47.2 degrees F (8.44 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 42.6 degrees F (5.89 degrees C), and Texas averaged 56.9 degrees F (13.85 degrees C). Both Tennessee and Mississippi reported its sixth coldest March on record (1895-2013). For Arkansas, it was the tenth coldest March on record (1895-2013), while Louisiana posted its sixteenth coldest March on record (1895-2013). All other state rankings fell in the middle two quartiles.
  • With the exception of Texas and Oklahoma, March proved to be a much cooler month than expected. Temperature averages throughout the central and eastern portions of the region ranged between 4 to 8 degrees F (2.22 to 4.44 degrees C) below normal, with the coldest anomalies situated in north eastern Arkansas, and throughout most of Tennessee. Temperatures in Oklahoma typically averaged only slightly cooler than normal. This was also the case for much of eastern Texas. In the western counties of Texas, temperatures averaged only slightly above normal. The state average temperature values are as follows: Arkansas averaged 46.2 degrees F (7.89 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 55.2 degrees F (12.89 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 50.1 degrees F (10.06 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 47.2 degrees F (8.44 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 42.6 degrees F (5.89 degrees C), and Texas averaged 56.9 degrees F (13.85 degrees C). Both Tennessee and Mississippi reported its sixth coldest March on record (1895-2013). For Arkansas, it was the tenth coldest March on record (1895-2013), while Louisiana posted its sixteenth coldest March on record (1895-2013). All other state rankings fell in the middle two quartiles.
  • Below normal precipitation totals in Texas, have caused some drought conditions in the southern portions to worsen, but in general, drought conditions in the Southern Region have not changed significantly over the past month. As was the case last month, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee remain drought free. Though there is still some moderate drought in western Arkansas, the bulk of the severe to extreme drought conditions are still localized to Texas and Oklahoma, with little changes to total areal extent.
  • In Texas, frontal passages have also been causing damage across the state, with several storm systems bringing thunderstorms high winds to the state. Hailstorms and thunderstorms caused building damage and power outages to over 2,900 in Kyle, Hamilton, Austin, and Burnet in several isolated events. The driest portions of west Texas, particularly near and west of Lubbock, saw several high wind days that caused dust storms. Dry grasslands, driven by high winds from frequent frontal passages, are leading to growing fire concerns, as several wildfires have burned over 750 acres, such that $161 million dollars for fuel removal and wildfire control is in the process of passing through the state legislature (Information provided by the Texas State Climate Office).
  • In Texas, new agricultural problems are cropping up as well. The latest frontal system brought below freezing temperatures, causing fears that wheat crops could be damaged. High rainfall deficits have farmers rethinking plans to grow cotton, reducing the estimated planting numbers by 25 percent. Feed prices continue to ruse, causing ranchers in west and south Texas to reduce herd numbers. By the end of March, herd populations were the lowest seen since 1967, causing a meat processing plant in San Angelo, costing 200 jobs (Information provided by the Texas State Climate Office).
  • On March 18, 2013, several hail reports were issued throughout northeastern Louisiana and central Mississippi. In Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, golfball to baseball-sized hail was reported.
  • On March 30, 2013, two twisters were reported in eastern Oklahoma. Some minor damage was reported, but fortunately, no one was injured by the events.
  • For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • March was drier than normal for much of the West, especially northern California, northern Nevada, Oregon, and eastern New Mexico. The northern tier of the West was slightly cooler than normal while many locations in the southern Great Basin and Desert Southwest saw March average temperatures among the highest on record.
  • High pressure aloft over California kept storm tracks to the north and temperatures around 5 F (2.8 C) above normal in the southern Great Basin and Desert Southwest. Las Vegas, Nevada recorded its 2nd highest average March temperature at 64.8 F (18.2 C) as well as its 2nd highest average minimum March temperature at 54.2 F (12.3 C). Records at Las Vegas began in 1937. Death Valley, California hit 100 F (37.8 C) on March 17, tying the same date in 2007 as the earliest triple-digit temperature since records began in 1961. Yuma, Arizona logged its 2nd highest March average minimum temperature on a 137-year record with an average 56.6 F (13.7 C). The average March temperature at Yuma was 70.6 F (21.4 C), and tied for the 7th warmest on record. In California’s Central Valley, Fresno recorded its 3rd warmest March on record at an average 62.1 F (16.7 C). Further north, Reno, Nevada recorded an average 49.4 F (9.7 C), the 3rd warmest March since records began in 1888. Cooler than normal weather was observed this month in the inland Northwest. In northeastern Montana, Glasgow recorded a March average of 24.3 F (-4.3 C), 7.4 F (4.1 C) below the March normal.
  • After a dry January and February, sparse precipitation continued in March over much of the West. In the central Sierra, Tahoe City, California recorded its driest January-February-March in a 103-year record at 2.68 in (68 mm), only 16% of the normal 16.3 in (414 mm). Elsewhere in northern California, Ukiah also recorded its driest start to the year at 4.05 in (103 mm), 15.02 in (382 mm) below normal. Only 6.99 in (178 mm) of precipitation fell in downtown Portland, Oregon since the first of the year. This was the driest such period in a 123-year record and 47% of normal. Many other locations throughout Oregon, Nevada, and California recorded one of their 10 lowest January-February-March precipitation totals on record. A winter storm on the 8th and 9th brought precipitation to the Southwest (especially CA) and snow accumulations up to 24 in (610 mm) in mountainous areas. This was the only precipitation of the month for much of this region, but enough to keep many locations above 50% of normal. Colorado’s Front Range received beneficial precipitation this month as well. Boulder recorded its driest March on record in 2012, while March 2013 fell just short of one of the top-10 snowiest on record at 23.5 in (59.7 cm).
  • The end of March is typically the peak snowpack for many locations in the West and an important date for anticipation of springtime runoff. Snow water content in the northern Cascades and northern Rockies was near normal to slightly above normal at month’s end. To the south, snow water content in the Sierra Nevada, Utah’s Wasatch and Uinta ranges, the southern Rockies, and Arizona’s Mogollon Rim region stood at less than 75% or less of normal. This is the second winter in a row these areas have recorded below normal snow water equivalent in their snowpack at the end of March, raising concerns about water resources.
  • As solar isolation increases in the Arctic with the changing of seasons, sea ice extent has begun to decline and locations along Alaska’s North Slope are displaying above normal temperatures for March after being cooler than normal during December and January. Barrow reported an average -7.4 F (-21.9 C) for March, 5.3 F (2.9 C) over normal. A dramatic and rapid breakup of the thin pack ice of the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska took place over February and March. Temperatures elsewhere in the state were generally several degrees below normal. Near-normal precipitation fell throughout southern Alaska, though portions of the Interior and Southeast regions were below normal for the month. Further south, cool and stormy weather dominated in Hawaii. After 12 days of sub-80 F (26.7 C) highs, Honolulu hit 81 F (27.2 C) on March 22. This was the longest period of sub-80 F (26.7 C) highs since March 2-14, 2012.
  • March (all month): Missoula, Montana temperatures: The airport at Missoula, Montana has not seen a sub-0 F (-17.8 C) temperature reading since February 25, 2011. This is now the second longest such period on record. If their temperatures stay above 0 F (-17.8 C) through the end of October 2013, this would be the longest such period on record. It is highly likely that temperatures will not dip below 0 F (-17.8 C) between now and October as they have never done so previously in the station’s 65-year record.
  • March (all month): Drought continues in the West: According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe drought conditions continued for much of the West this month with over 80% of the West at least abnormally dry. Severe to exceptional drought continued for New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming and the region of severe drought expanded in northern Nevada. Abnormally dry conditions spread through eastern Oregon and southwestern Montana as well. Some drought relief was seen this month in northeastern Colorado.
  • For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

See NCDC's Monthly Records web-page for weather and climate records for the most recent month. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for any period, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.


PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages. Graphics based on final data are provided on the Temperature and Precipitation Maps page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for March 2013, published online April 2013, retrieved on October 21, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/03.