Last week I looked at the warmest March in Grand Rapids history. This week I will look at some of years where March was more like January than March the first one I will look at is March 1960!
The winter of 1959/60 started out with December being warmer (+3.7°) with less snow (10.6”) 21.9” is average. January was also above average (+2.7°) but somewhat snowy with 25” (20.8” is ave) February was below average at -2.0° and the above average snow fall continued with 25.6” that February. Then came March 1960. The first day of March 1960 came in with a high of 25° and a low of -1° (remember Grand Rapids has not gotten below zero for two winters in a row now) and there was 12” of snow on the ground that first day of March. For the next 12 days the temperature did not get above 32° and the warmest low was just 20° it got below zero one more night. On the 13th of March it did get above 32 when the high was 33°. Well the temperature did not get any warmer than 38° from March 1st to the 27th The month started out with 12” of snow on the ground and at no point did the snow depth get less than 4” until after the 27th. The temperature did shoot up to 51 on the 27th and that was a start of a 4 day “heat wave” when the temperatures top out at 51, 44, 65 and 61 before dropping back down to 37 on the 31st. The mean of 23.9° (-11.7°) that is the same average mean temperature for a January here in Grand Rapids. That March also had 13.2” of snowfall. Over in Muskegon and Lansing it was much the same with where it also did not get above 38° until the 27th
While 1960 was the coldest March in Grand Rapids that was not the case in Muskegon where 1912 was reported as colder than 1960. The mean at Muskegon in 1912 at Muskegon was reported as 23.0° vs 24.3° in 1960. The mean in Grand Rapids in 1912 was reported as 25° in 1912 vs the 23.9° in 1960. The big difference that year was that Muskegon reported 6 nights of below zero readings getting as low as -9° on two night while Grand Rapids did not report any sub zero nights in March of 1912. It should be noted that Lansing also had 6 nights of subzero nights in 1912 as well. But in all 3 locations the cold was not as long and it was in 1960. But over in Lansing neither 1960 nor 1912 was the coldest March on record. As we now come to what might have been the coldest recorded March in west central Michigan. In Lansing their coldest mean March came in 1885 (records do not go that far back in Grand Rapids or Muskegon) March of 1885 Lansing had a mean temperature reported of only 19.0° or -16.1° that would be well below average for a January. But unlike 1960 when the temperature was cold ever day March 1885 in Lansing was near average at the start and again at the end but got real cold in the middle. What made that March so cold was that in Lansing between March 7th 1885 and March 25th of that year the warmest low was +10° during that time it got at or below zero on 10 nights with lows of -13, -12 and -11 reported. Over all the years 1960, 1912 and 1885 had some of the coldest months of March in Michigan.
One can not talk about a January like March without looking at March 1965. Here in Grand Rapids March 1965 we recorded 36.0” of snow. (that is about the same as we had last December) the month started out with 5” of snow on the ground. Temperatures were just above average for the first 8 days of the month. Than dropping down to below average until the 17th. But than starting on the 18th the bottom fell out and for the rest of that month temperatures were in the double digits below average. As for snowfall Grand Rapids had one snow storm of 6.3” and on two days (back to back) we had 5.7” there was also a 4” snow fall (the day after the 6.3” fall) and one more day with 2” and yet another with 1.8” by March 24th there was 15” of snow on the ground. Not a nice way to start spring. Even on the 31st there was still 5” on the ground. And on the first day of April 1965 guess what? Yes Grand Rapids had yet another snow event with 3.9” on April fools day. And on April 2nd there was 6” of snow on the ground. That year March was -9.5° and April was -5.2° Over in Lansing the snow fall for March 1965 came in at 18.6” and in Muskegon it was 35.7” so there is a good chance that much of that March snow fall was lake effect. BTY the record March snow fall in Lansing is 34.8” way back in 1877 (no record for GR that far back) and the record for Muskegon is that 35.7” in 1965.
Day and Week Planner
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Temperature and Precipitation Forecasts
Light drizzle or light snow will continue much of Saturday, but little to no accumulation is expected. High temperatures will be in the upper 30s to lower 40s. Sunday will turn out to be a nicer day, with some sunshine and temperatures in the 40s.
A cold front will push rain back into the area late Sunday night and it will continue Monday. However the rain is expected to end through the afternoon. The rest of the week appears to be rather quiet, although another chance of rain should return by Thursday night into Friday. Most of the days should see temperatures in the 40s, but a warm up is expected by late in the week.
An upper low will continue to move across the CWA early this morning. This will continue to cause areas of light drizzle or occasionally snow. The DGZ is fairly dry through much of the day, but it appears we will occasionally see cloud tops reach into the DGZ for some snow mixing in at times. Any snow accums will be isolated and only a dusting where a random snow burst occurs.
The drizzle will gradually diminish toward 00Z this evening as the moisture continues to become more shallow as the upper low moves away. The clouds should begin to break up a bit toward daybreak, otherwise it will just be cloudy much of the night.
Surface high pressure arrives into Sunday. Looks like we keep enough low level moisture to expect some clouds through the day. Will call it partly sunny. Highs into the low and mid 40s. Then a cold front arrives by Monday morning. Moisture appears rather limited, so expected scattered showers, most common late Sunday night into Monday morning. Total pcpn will likely be a tenth of an inch or less. .
Much of the long term looks dry and cooler than average, with a trend toward more wet and warmer conditions by next weekend. We will be in between systems on Monday night, keeping conditions rather mild and dry. The colder air will arrive later Tuesday as a secondary and stronger cold front pushes south through the area. Sufficiently cold air will advect over the area for lake effect to be possible with H850 temps dropping to around as low as -16 to -17C by Wednesday.
We have kept a dry forecast going as the sfc ridge builds almost overhead, and the low level flow from the NNE will likely keep lake effect out of our area. This ridge will push out of the area by Thu, allowing for return flow to set up over the area. The flow coming from the south will eventually advect enough warmth and moisture into the area ahead of the next system to begin chances of pcpn beginning Thu night and lasting through Sat.
The pcpn will likely start out as some snow with cold enough temp profiles in place. Any snow will change over to rain quickly on Fri as much warmer air advects in. We could see a decent amount of rain with a deep srly flow becoming established ahead of the long wave trough out west.