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July-August 2011

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Weatherwatch: March/April 2011


During March, flooding shifted from the Ohio Valley into the upper Midwest. Some early- to mid-month flooding also struck the Northeast. Upper Midwestern flooding was triggered by the mid- to late-month combination of precipitation and melting snow, especially in eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota. Meanwhile, March rainfall provided drought relief in parts of the Southeast. Elsewhere, a series of exceptional, late-season storms hammered northern and central California and the Northwest, while drought continued to expand and intensify across Arizona and New Mexico. Drought also worsened on the southern Plains. Monthly temperatures averaged more than 5°F above normal in parts of the Southwest but were well below normal across the nation's northern tier. Readings averaged as much as 10°F below normal on the northern Plains.

Water World

In the wake of late-February downpours, the Scioto River at Prospect, Ohio, climbed 4.90 feet above flood stage on March 3, representing the highest water level in that location since January 6, 2005 (5.18 feet above flood stage). By early March, heavy precipitation shifted into several other areas, including the central Gulf Coast region and the Northeast. Daily-record rainfall amounts for March 5 included 3.81 inches in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 2.75 inches in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. On the same day, a tornado-related fatality was reported in Acadia Parish, Louisiana.

Meanwhile in the Great Lakes region, precipitation records for March 5 included 1.33 inches in Buffalo, New York, and 1.00 inch (4.0 inches of snow) in Detroit, Michigan. Elsewhere in Michigan, snowfall records for March 5 totaled 6.4 inches in Alpena and 6.0 inches in Houghton Lake. By March 6–7, snowfall locally topped two feet from central New York into northern Maine, with a few amounts in excess of 30 inches in northeastern New York and northern Vermont. Official two-day totals reached 19.0 inches in Caribou, Maine, and 15.9 inches in Binghamton, New York.

Weatherwise Contributing Editor BRAD RIPPEY is the U.S. Editor of the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin of the Joint Agriculture NOAA Weather Facility.

Weatherwise Contributing Editor JEFFREY B. HALVERSON is an associate professor of geography at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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