March: Month for all types of weather

By Jim Robinson: Meteorological technician, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron

March precipitation events can be rain or snow (and sometimes both at the same time), and are generally created by broad synoptic storm systems. However, thunderstorms typically start to occur in March.

The average March is characterized by about three or four strong cold fronts during the month. The strongest cold fronts often feature temperature drops of 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit in a couple hours, and wind speeds approaching 60 mph. The highest recorded wind gust in March is slightly more than 84 mph, which is the strongest wind gust recorded at Cannon.

The amount of potentially available sunlight increases through the month. The spring equinox occurs March 20, and marks the start of astronomical spring. Before the equinox, the northern hemisphere receives an average of less than 12 hours of sunlight daily. After the spring equinox, the northern hemisphere receives more than 12 hours of sunlight daily. The amount of potentially available sunlight increases by 65 minutes from March 1 to March 31. Sunrise gets earlier by 41 minutes during the month. Sunset gets later by 24 minutes through the month, hence, the region gains more sunlight in the morning than it does in the evening. However, because the “spring forward” 60-minute time shift of Daylight Saving Time occurs in March and the common perception is that more sunlight is gained in the evening.

The average temperature for March is 49 degrees, ranging from 45 degrees on March 1 to 53 degrees on March 31. The average maximum temperature for the month is 64 degrees, with the average daily maximum temperature rising from 60 degrees on the first day of the month to 68 degrees by March 31. The average minimum temperature for the month is 34 degrees, with the average daily minimum temperature ranging from 31 degrees on the 1st to 38 degrees on the 31st.

The highest recorded monthly temperature is 91 degrees, which occurred on March 12, 1989. The lowest recorded monthly temperature is 4 degrees below zero, which occurred on March 11, 1948, and is the only sub-zero temperature recorded in March. Daily record high temperatures are generally in the 80s. Daily record low temperatures generally range from the single digits above zero to the teens.

Cannon averages 0.5 inch of liquid equivalent precipitation during March. The average March has two days in which a thunderstorm occurs. The month averages 1.5 inches of snowfall, with the highest recorded snowfall amount in March being 12.3 inches.

In summary, March is generally considered the beginning of spring, but can still have winter- and summer-like conditions as well.