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Year-to-Date Graph Return to Daily Statistics by Month Table

Saint Cloud Weather Summary for March 2011

Wet And Cold March Feeds Potential Flooding Problems

Coldest March Since 2002

After having a March in 2010 without a single snowflake for only the 11th time in St. Cloud records, March 2011 was wet, white, and cold. St. Cloud's average March temperature was 24.3°F, 4.1°F colder than normal. This was the month that was the most below normal of any cold season month in the 2010-2011 year. It was the coldest March since 2002 and 13.3°F colder than last March, the 3rd warmest March in St. Cloud records.

St. Cloud did manage to hit its first 50-degree high of the spring on March 17, just a day off the average date of March 16. However, March was colder than normal during the first 8 days of the month. Then, a late month cold high produced 8 straight days colder than normal including 6 days that were 13 or 14 degrees colder than normal. The month featured two more days with lows below zero, making a total of 40 days with a low of zero or colder for the cold season. There are, on the average, 42.5 days with such cold lows. Note that only 4 of the past 14 cold seasons have had above normal number of sub-zero lows, another sign of how mild the winters have been recently.

Persistent Snow Cover Helped Keep Us Cold

The persistent snow cover during the month of March was a major factor in keeping temperatures cold. The month began with 9 inches of snow on the ground, increased to 13 inches after the snowstorm of March 6-7, then dwindled to an inch on March 21 and 22. But the snowstorm of March 22-23 refreshed the snow cover and kept it for the rest of the month. Snow cover keeps the ground from warming up very well because the sun's energy that would normally go into heating the air instead is: 1) reflected to space by the white snow cover and, 2) lost due to melting the snow when the temperature is above freezing. It's no coindence the snow cover was gone by March 14 of last year, leading to the warm conditions that included 5 days with a high of at least 60 and one day that broke 70.

Cold Season Snowfall Building Towards a Possible Top 10 Finish

March 2011 had 12.7 inches of snow to add to the snow cover. That was 4.2 inches above the March normal and ranks as the 19th snowiest of the 112 Marches in St. Cloud snow records. That marked the fourth straight month with at least 10 inches of snow. As noted last month, each of the 6 winters that had double-digit snowfall in each month (Dec., Jan., Feb.) also had a fourth month with at least 10 inches of snow.

The biggest storms that refreshed the snow cover were the storm of March 5-6, which produced 4-6 inches of snow across central Minnesota and actually had St. Cloud among the highest snowfall totals for the first time during this cold season, and the storm of March 22-23, which produced 12-18 inches of snow from eastern North Dakota into a strip of central Minnesota just to the north of the St. Cloud area and extended into Wisconsin. St. Cloud got 6.7 inches of snow from this storm, including a daily record snowfall of 5.5 inches on March 23, beating the daily record by one day.

The total snowfall for the 2010-2011 cold season so far (1 October 2010 - 31 March 2011) is 63.9 inches, 19.4 inches above normal for the season so far. That's the 12th highest total of the 112 seasons in St. Cloud records and just 1.0 inch short of cracking one of the 10 snowiest cold seasons.

There were six more days of measurable snowfall in March. That makes 46 days with measurable snowfall during this cold season, the 11th highest total in St. Cloud records.

Staring At Snow Seemingly Forever

The remarkable part of the snow season so far has been the persistent snow cover. There has been at least an inch of snow on the ground at the St. Cloud Reformatory every day from November 23 through April 1. That's a total of 130 consecutive days with a snow cover, about a month and a half longer than the average number of 86 days. Through April 1, that's tied for the 8th longest streak in St. Cloud records. The longest was the 146 straight days with a snow cover in 2001-2002.

There have only been 11 cold seasons in which the consecutive snow streak continued into April. The year that the snow cover lasted the latest was in 1974-1975 when there was still an inch of snow on the ground as late as April 15. With temperatures well above freezing expected through the weekend and the strong possibility of rain on Sunday, our streak could finally come to an end in the next day or two.

Above Normal March Precipitation

The precipitation locked up in the falling snow ended up being over 2 inches at the St. Cloud Regional Airport during March. The total precipitation was 2.02 inches, just a shade more than 1/2 inch above the average of 1.50 inch. The storm of March 22-23 dumped 1.26 inch of liquid.

Effect of Snow, Cold Temperatures On Spring Flooding

The cold and wet conditions during March 2011 extended the potential flooding problems for Minnesota and the Dakotas. At the start of the month, there were 5-8 inches of liquid locked up in the snow cover, especially when there was more than 20 inches of snow on the ground in western Minnesota and the Red River Valley. That did dwindle a bit during the mid-month thaw, but the March 22-23 snowstorm pushed the total back over 20 inches in the last week of the month. The wave of melting in mid-month pushed the Minnesota River and its tributaries out of their banks during the second half of the month. Those levels have begun to fall with a few areas of moderate to severe flooding along the Redwood, Cottonwood, South Fork of the Crow, and parts of the Minnesota River Valley. The Mississippi River downstream of St. Paul pushed out of its banks. However, with the headwaters of the Mississippi, St. Croix, Minnesota, and Red Rivers still having more than 10 inches of snow on the ground, a second, higher crest on Minnesota rivers is quite possible.

The main water surge in the Red River Valley is starting, but with persistent relatively cool temperatures and the possibility of significant snow over parts of the valley this weekend, the flood danger may be delayed, but the possibility of major and record flooding will continue to affect this area likely through the month of April.

What Can We Expect From April?

The weather pattern for the first weekend of April will likely produce a storm with major precipitation in one form or another. A stormy pattern tends to be hard to predict beyond 3-5 days. However, on the average, April is a typical spring month, which means we can get just about any type of weather. The average high temperature climbs from the middle 40's early in the month to the lower 60's by the end of the month. On the average, the first high of at least 60 degrees is April 17 and the first high of at least 70 degrees is April 30. Last year, we reached both of these levels in March. We are done with the sub-zero lows for the year.

On the other hand, April is a typical spring month, which means snow is possible. April averages 2.9 inches of snow. Also, only 28 of the 105 previous Aprils have gone without measurable snowfall. Seven of those brown Aprils have happened in the past 13 years.

However, these spring months can do just about anything. Note that the temperature records show both upper 70's highs and single digit lows have happened before. By the end of the month, temperatures have cracked 90 in the past, but there has been a foot of snowfall on the 26th and 6.5 inches on the 30th.

On the average, we can expect the frost to come out of the soil soon. The frost has already come out of the soil in Monticello, and is starting to come out in Marshall and Rochester. However, northern Minnesota has a long way to go. Normally, ice out statewide will begin from southern Minnesota into central Minnesota by mid-month and into the northern lakes by late this month. So far, the State Climatology ice out page shows that ice out hasn't happened yet.

March 2011 Statistics

Temperatures (F)
Mar 2011
Average
Average High Temperature (F)
34.3
37.6
Average Low Temperature (F)
14.4
19.1
Mean Temperature for March (F)
24.3
28.4
Coolest March Since 2002
March Extremes
Temperature(F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for March 2011 (F)
50
March 17
Coldest High Temperature for March 2011 (F)
10
March 2
Warmest Low Temperature for March 2011 (F)
36
March 20
Coldest Low Temperature for March 2011 (F)

-8

March 2
Record Temperatures in March 2011
Temperature(F)
Date
Old Record
No records set
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
March 2011 Days with High Temperatures <= 32F
15
March 2011 Days with High Temperatures <= 0F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with High Temperatures <= 0F

2
4.3
March 2011 Days with High Temperatures <= -10F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with High Temperatures <= -10F

0
0.6
March 2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32F
28
28.0

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32F

148
151.9
March 2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0F
2
3.5

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0F

40
42.7
March 2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20F

2
5.4
March 2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2010-2011 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30F

0
0.6
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
March 2010
Normal
March 2010 Melted Precipitation (in)
2.02
1.50
March Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in March 2010
0.75
March 22
Daily Precipitation Records
Amount (inches)
Date
Old Record
No records set
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
March 2011 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
9
7.1
March 2011 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
5
3.3
March 2011 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
2
1.8
March 2011 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
2
0.7
March 2011 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.1

Link to 10 Wettest/Driest Marches Complete list of Saint Cloud March Records
Snowfall (in)
March 2011
Normal
March 2011 Saint Cloud Airport Snowfall (in)
12.7
8.5
2010-2011 Seasonal Snowfall (1 Oct 2010 - 31 Mar 2011)
63.9
45.8

10 Whitest Cold Seasons

Snowfall Thresholds
Number of Days
Average
March 2011 Days with Measurable (>= 0.1 inch) Snowfall
6
5.3
2010-2011 Cold Season Total Days with Measurable (>= 0.1 inch) Snowfall
46#
31.8
March 2011 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
3
2.8
2010-2011 Cold Season Total Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
20
14.0.
March 2011 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
2
1.5
2010-2011 Cold Season Total Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
9
7.6
March 2011 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
1
0.1
2010-2011 Cold Season Total Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
2
1.4
#11th Highest Total in St. Cloud Records (105 Cold Seasons)    
March Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall (in) in March 2011
5.5 (set record, see below)
March 23
Daily Snowfall Records
Amount (inches)
Date
Old Record
Daily Record Snowfall
5.5 inches
March 23
5.4 inches in 1991

 

Longest Streaks of Consecutive 1+ Inch Snow Cover Days in St. Cloud
Rank
Days
Cold Season
Range
Season Snowfall (Inches)
1
146
2000-2001
Nov. 12 - April 6
56.6
2
145
1940-1941
Nov. 11 - April 4
54.0
3(tie)
139
1911-1912
Nov. 12 - March 29
36.8
3(tie)
139
1964-1965
Nov. 26 - April 13
87.9
5
135
1950-1951
Nov. 22 - April 5
82.0
6
133
1996-1997
Nov. 21 - April 2
62.8
7
132
1955-1956
Nov. 15 - March 25
52.8
8 (tie)
130
1927-1928
Nov. 14- March 22
69.6
8 (tie)
130
2010-2011
Nov. 23 - April 1
66.1
9
129
1978-1979
Dec. 3 - April 10
66.9

 

St. Cloud's Latest End to Consecutive Snow Cover Streak
Rank
End Date
Consecutive Days
Seasonal Snowfall (In)
1
April 15, 1975
124
65.4
2
April 13, 1965
139
87.9
3
April 10, 1979
129
66.9
4
April 7, 2002
43
64.0
5
April 6, 2001
146
56.6
6
April 5, 1951
135
82.0
7(tie)
April 4, 1941
145
54.0
7(tie)
April 4, 1952
115
56.5
9
April 3, 1969
123
66.9
10
April 2, 1997
133
44.9
11
April 1, 2011
130
66.1

 

Last Updated: May 1, 2011

Send comments to: Bob Weisman