<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> March 2009 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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Area River Levels from the NWS River Forecast Center

Saint Cloud Weather Summary for March 2009

March In and Out Like A Seal

New St. Cloud Record for March Precipitation

It was more wet than white, but March 2009 will go down as the wettest March in the 122 years of St. Cloud precipitation records. The 4.66 inches recorded at the St. Cloud Regional Airport beat out March 1897 by 0.13 inch. It was the second time in the past 4 years with an extraordinarily wet March; March 2007 (3.33 inches) ranks as the fourth wettest March. While March 2009 featured two major snowstorms (4.0 inches on the 10th and a record-breaking 6.3 inches on the 31st), more than 75% of the precipitation fell as rain during the major Northern Plains storm on March 22-25. St. Cloud picked up 3.33 inches in that four day period, including 2.49 inches on March 22. That rainfall not only broke the March 22 rainfall record but also set a new March record for any 24-hour rainfall. The old record was 2.00 inches, set on March 19, 1897. To put this in perspective, St. Cloud normally gets 2.83 inches of total precipitation during the combined months of January, February, and March. And, St. Cloud's rainfall was still short of the mark set at Paynesville's relatively new station that ran up over 3.09 inches during the night of March 22 and 4.76 inches for the entire three-day storm.

In March, it didn't snow often, but St. Cloud still got a lot of snow. St. Cloud received only a glancing blow from the first March snowstorm, which actually came in three waves, producing a total of 18.8 inches in International Falls. However, the March 31 snowfall dumped 6.3 inches of wet snow on St. Cloud, plus some rain showers, during a storm that produced more than a foot of snow over the Upper Minnesota and Red River Valleys (20 inches in Ortonville-Wahpeton) plus the Arrowhead. This contributed to the 10.9 inches of snow for March in St. Cloud, 2.4 inches higher than normal. What was unusual about the snowfall, besides falling so heavily on the last day of month, was that there were only 4 days with measurable snowfall.

You may remember March 2009 for its cold and snowy finish and severe cold around the middle of the month, but temperatures in St. Cloud were a roller coaster that finished nearly average. The March average temperature was 27.5°F, 0.9°F colder than normal. However, the month featured a period in which St. Cloud had four consecutive record cold temperatures, including every category on March 12. This included a high of 4°F on the 11th and a low of -15°F on the 12th. That blast of cold air came right on the heels of the March 10 snowstorm and ended up dropping temperatures to the minus 30's in northeastern Minnesota. However, the Northern Plains warmed very rapidly after the cold air moved out, producing two days with 50+ highs as the snow melted on March 21-22.

All the precipitation, followed by the mid-March warm-up, exacebated what had been long foreseen as a tough year for spring snowmelt runoff in the Red River Valley. The Red River broke a record at Fargo by cresting at 40.8 feet. There has been widespread major flooding on all Red River tributaries as rapid runoff from the early March snows aggravated the problem. The mid-month warmth also ended St. Cloud's 102 consecutive days of snow cover on March 18 and provided enough runoff to force the Sauk River to its 4th highest level recorded (8.19 feet) and the Mississippi River at St. Cloud to 9.86 feet (4th highest level) on March 30.

In order to ease the flooding situation, what we need is: a) no more precipitation and b) a gradual snowmelt with daytime highs a bit above freezing and overnight lows below freezing. The colder than normal weather looks like it will continue through the weekend for all Northern Plains rivers, but this active weather pattern continues with two more major storms in the next 5 days, one of which may affect parts of the Northern Plains Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, the storm we didn't get (over last weekend) dumped as much as 28 inches of snow in Kansas and Oklahoma and 10-20 inches of rain in the Southeast.

Despite the late spring storm, the mid-March warm-up allowed the lakes in southern Minnesota to have an early ice out date. That thaw, however, will be slower in the northern part of the state.

Area River Levels from the NWS River Forecast Center

March 2009 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Mar 2009
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
36.7
37.6
Average Low Temperature (°F)
18.2
19.1
Mean Temperature for March (°F)
27.5
28.4
 
March Extremes
Temperature(°F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for March 2009 (°F)
58
March 16
Coldest High Temperature for March 2009 (°F)
4
March 11
Warmest Low Temperature for March 2009 (°F)
41
March 23
Coldest Low Temperature for March 2009 (°F)

-15 (broke daily record; see below)

March 12
Record Temperatures in March 2009
Temperature(°F)
Date
Old Record
Daily Record Cold High
4°F
March 11
5°F set in 1948
 
11°F
March 12
15°F set in 1897
Daily Record Cold Low
-15°F
March 12
-12°F set in 1956
Daily Record Cold Average
-2°F
March 12
2°F set in 1956
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
March 2009 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
8
March 2009 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F

5
4.3
March 2009 Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F

0
0.6
March 2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
28
28.0

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F

144
151.9
March 2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
6
3.5

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F

55 (most since 1995-1996)
42.7
March 2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F

12 (most since 1995-1996)
5.4
March 2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F
0
0.0

Cold-season 2008-2009 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F

1 (first low in this category since January 2004)
0.6
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
March 2009
Normal
March 2009 Melted Precipitation (in)
4.66**
1.50
March Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in March 2009
2.49 (set March record; see below)
March 23
Daily Precipitation Records
Amount (inches)
Date
Old Record
Record March Daily Rainfall
2.49 inches
March 23
2.00 inches on March 19, 1897
Record Daily Rainfall
2.49 inches
March 23
0.79 inch on 1931
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
March 2009 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
7
7.1
March 2009 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
7
3.3
March 2009 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
4
1.8
March 2009 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
3
0.7
March 2009 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
1
0.1
**Wettest March in St. Cloud records
Link to 10 Wettest/Driest Marches Complete list of Saint Cloud March Records
Snowfall (in)
March 2009
Normal
March 2009 Saint Cloud Airport Snowfall (in)
10.9
8.5
2008-2009 Seasonal Snowfall (1 Oct 2008 - 31 Mar 2009)
50.4
45.8

Ten Snowiest Marches 1899-2009

St. Cloud Snowfall 1995-2009
Snowfall Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
March 2009 Days with Measurable (>= 0.1 inch) Snowfall
4
5.3
March 2009 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
2
2.8
March 2009 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
2
1.5
March 2009 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
1
0.1
March Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall (in) in March 2009
6.3 (set daily snowfall record; see below)
March 31
Daily Snowfall Records
Amount (inches)
Date
Old Record
Record Daily Snowfall (in)
6.3 inches
March 31
5.0 inches in 2008
Area River Levels from the NWS River Forecast Center

Last Updated: June 8, 2009

Send comments to: Bob Weisman