by Brad Rippey
F ollowing the nation’s driest January-February period on record, a stormier weather pattern developed during March. One region of wet weather stretched from central Texas into the Southeast. However, rain largely stayed north of the Florida Peninsula. Farther north, wet conditions also prevailed in much of the Midwest, excluding the Ohio Valley. Extensive lowland flooding developed in several areas, such as northern Indiana and the Red River Valley in the upper Midwest. In fact, a record-setting crest on March 28 threatened Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city. Meanwhile, the drought-affected southern Plains benefited from moisture associated with a significant late-season snow and sleet storm from March 26-28, but endured an unusual blast of cold air in the storm’s wake. Elsewhere, cold, unsettled weather in the Northwest contrasted with generally warm, dry conditions in the Southwest. In California, early-March storminess slightly improved summer water-supply forecasts but failed to prevent the completion of a third consecutive drought year.
Monthly temperatures averaged at least 5°F below normal across portions of the northern Plains and the Northwest but were as much as 5°F above normal from the southern Plains and the Southwest into the Midwest. Near- to slightly below-normal readings prevailed in California, the Great Basin, and the Atlantic Coast states.