March 1999 Saint Cloud Weather Summary

This Month's Daily Statistics


DATE: 2 April 1999

SUBJECT: March continues mild and dry trend

March 1999 St. Cloud weather summary


March 1999 in St. Cloud continued the trend of mild and dry months. The average temperature of 31.7 degrees was more than 4 degrees above normal. This figure made March 1999 the mildest March since 1990. While no record highs were set, the 71 degree high on March 30 was the first 70+ degree high reached since 1987, when the highs on both March 6 and 7 broke the 70 degree mark (71 on the 6th, 73 on the 7th--both daily record temperatures). The low temperature of 49 degrees on March 31, 1999 did set a daily record for a mild low temperature. Also, there were no sub-zero lows set in March 1999, so the 1998-1999 cold season continues to be tied for the 5th lowest number of days with a low of 0 or colder (see table below).

Precipitation continued to be sparse in St. Cloud. The March 1999 melted total of 0.94 inch was almost half an inch below normal. There were only 5 days with measurable precipitation in March 1999, making only 7 dayswith measurable precipitation since February 1. This has put the annual precipitation deficit for 1999 at nearly an inch. More importantly, groundwater levels are in need of a recharge since the fall 1998 rainfall was more than 1.5 inches below normal (Sept-Nov rainfall: 4.67 in; Sept-Nov normal rainfall: 6.29 in). Most of the snowfall does not recharge the soil since the ground is frozen, so the spring rainfall now is very important. Hopefully, some thunderstorms over the next 24 hours will help to ease this situation.

Most of the precipitation during March 1999 in St. Cloud was locked up in snowfall, and the bulk of that fell during the storm of March 8-9. This storm produced 9.8 inches of snow in St. Cloud, set a daily snowfall record for March 8, and was the biggest March snowfall in 14 years. Other records fell statewide, including the largest Twin Cities snowfall since the Halloween blizzard. Many more details about this storm appear below. The total St. Cloud March snowfall was 10.5 inches, less than an inch above normal. The 1998-1999 seasonal snowfall now has reached 35.6 inches. If this total holds through April and May, it will be the lowest St. Cloud seasonal snowfall in 9 years. The seasonal snowfall for 1989-1990 was 32.5 inches.



MARCH 1999 STATISTICS           MAR 1999        NORMAL
Average High                     42.2           37.6
Average Low                      21.1           17.6
Average Temp                     31.7           27.6
Warmest high temperature         71 on the 30th
Coldest high temperature         28 on the 4th,6th,8th
Mildest low temperature          49 on the 31st (record, see below)
Coldest low temperature          2 on the 12th
Daily record temperatures:
Record Warm Lows:                49 on the 31st (old record: 44 in 1918)
MELTED PRECIP (in)               .94            1.41
Most in 24 hours                 .48 on the 8th
SNOWFALL (in)                    10.5           9.8
Most in 24 hours                 7.5 on the 8th (record; see below)
Seasonal Snowfall (Oct-Mar)      35.6           43.1
Daily record snowfall:           7.5 on the 8th (old record: 2.8 in in 1982)


           OCT  NOV DEC  JAN  FEB MAR  APR  MAY         TOTAL
1998-1999  0.0  3.4 2.8 18.4  0.5 10.5                   35.6
NORMAL     0.5  6.8 8.9 10.1  7.0  9.8  2.3  0.1         45.5


           COLD SEASON (NORMAL = 43 days)
            16  1997-1998 
            17  1986-1987     
            22  1918-1919
            22  1941-1942
            29  1908-1909
            29  1990-1991
            29  1998-1999 <--- TIED FOR 5TH FEWEST ON RECORD
            30  1931-1932
            30  1982-1983
            31  1937-1938
            31  1943-1944
            31  1957-1958



The March 8-9 snowfall was the largest March snowfall in 14 years. The total snowfall was 9.8 inches at the St. Cloud Airport.

There hasn't been a storm producing this much snowfall in St. Cloud during the past 26 months. The last major snowfall this large in central Minnesota was January 4-5, 1997, which produced 11.6 inches in St. Cloud with even higher totals to the west (for example: 27 inches in Wheaton, 21 inches in Alexandria). The last time there was this much snow in March was in 1985 when the storm of March 3-4 produced more than 17 inches ofsnow in St. Cloud.

This particular storm, which dumped snow from Nebraska to Indiana and is doing it right now in the Mid-Atlantic states, was unusual in that the track of the storm (eastern Colorado to southern Missouri) was a good one for producing heavy snow in Iowa, but usually doesn't produce a lot of snow further to the north. However, this system also contained an inverted trough, a subject of currently funded National Science Foundation research at St. Cloud State University. Weisman, three current and former SCSU students, and colleagues from the regional National Weather Service offices have been studying this forecast problem for the past two years. A workshop on the findings was held last November in Sioux Falls, leading to improved techniques in the forecasting of such systems. While this particular storm did not quite fit the mold, the forecasts in the area were relatively close, showing that these techniques are, at least, a partial success.


St. Cloud:
Most snowfall on March 8: 7.5 inches (old record: 2.8 inches in 1982)
Highest single day snowfall since January 4, 1997 (8.5 inches)
Largest storm total snowfall (9.8 inches) since January 4-5, 1997 (11.6 inches)
Largest March single day snowfall and storm total snowfall since March 3-4, 1985 (8.7 inches on 3/3/85; 9.0 inches on 3/4/85)
Minneapolis/St. Paul Int'l: largest single storm snowfall since the Halloween blizzard (10/31-11/2/1991)
Most snowfall on March 8: 12.5 inches
Most melted precipitation on March 8: 0.95 inches melted
Other accumulations:
Bloomington: 16-17 inches
Minneapolis/St. Paul Int'l: 16 inches
Forest Lake: 15 inches
Fridley, Golden Valley, New Prague, Spring Lake Park, Waconia, SW Minneapolis: 14 inches
Chanhassen, North Branch, Savage: 13 inches
Stillwater: 12.5 inches
Henderson: 12-14 inches
Princeton: 12 inches
Elk River: 12 inches
Chicago, IL: 12 inches
Cokato: 11.2 inches
Lafayette, St. Peter, Wabasha, Zimmerman: 11 inches
Des Moines, IA: 11 inches
Mason City, IA: 11 inches
Ottumwa, IA: 11 inches
Hutchinson: 10-12 inches
Brainerd, Buffalo, Cambridge, Foley, New Ulm, Rice, Waseca: 10 inches
Granite Falls: 10 inches
St. Cloud Airport: 9.8 inches
Albert Lea: 9.5 inches
Eden Valley, Faribault, Red Wing, Willmar: 9 inches
Lamberton, New London: 9 inches
St. Cloud State University: 9.5 inches
Sioux Falls, SD: 9.3 inches
Mankato: 8-10 inches
Fairmont: 8-9 inches
Blue Earth: 8.5 inches
Little Falls, Long Prairie, Melrose, Montevideo, Stewart, Vesta: 8 inches
Redwood Falls: 7 inches
Alexandria: 6-8 inches
Glenwood, Onamia: 6 inches
Moline, IL: 6 inches
International Falls: 5 inches
Milwaukee, WI: 5 inches
Madison, WI: 5 inches


Historic temperature data provided courtesy of the Saint Cloud National Weather Service Office, and NOAA/NWS
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