March 2013 was a month that had way below average cold temperatures. According to weather.com the average high for a day in March is 40 degrees F.
This past month was 35.81 degrees, or more than four degrees below average. This is the biggest below average variation in 20 months.
The trend might be for rising temperatures, but there is always variation around a trend line and this past month, was a decidely below average variation. The Updraft blog of Minnesota Public Radio wrote on Monday that this was the coldest March in 17 years.
We can take solace the three winter months December, January and February did have above normal temperatures.
Still, the chill in March was just a bit demoralizing. It would have been nice just to have been over with winter starting around the first of March.
Remembering last March might have had something to do with thinking this March was so miserable.
Last year the average daily high for March was 58 degrees, which was 18 degrees above average and 22 degrees above this month’ average.
This year March had one day with a temperature above 58. The mercury hit 59 on the 29th.
As of the end of March, St. James had yet had a 60 degree day.
One positive for March was precipitation. St. James had 3.09 inches of moisture, and the monthly average is 1.64. That is at least a little drought relief.
However, much of that moisture might not sink in due to a soil condition Meteorologists call ‘concrete frost’.
This is something that impacts the top layer of the earth. Much of the region had rains in December. That moisture did not sink deeply into the soil that had not yet frozen. It didn’t sink in because a cold snap flash froze the ground. The top layer of soil became like a block of ice. Pour water on a block of ice, and it runs off.
Concrete frost removes the soil’s ability to infiltrate additional water as the entire surface pore space is already filled with ice. Additionally, it takes higher and/or prolonged temperatures to remove concrete frost conditions as compared to frost in the soil formed during unsaturated conditions.
As the spring thaw began, the surface of the soil is like a big block of ice. Much of the water on top of the flash frozen soil is likely to run off into streams, rivers and lakes before the soil thaws.
Last month did not produce the higher and/or prolonged temperatures to remove this condition, so much of the above average precipitation we experienced is not likely to be absorbed into the soil. There were radio reports that ice thickened on some Minnesota lakes in March.
Page 2 of 2 - There were many storms this past winter and St. James did not take a direct hit. We missed the heavy snow bands with all of the storms whether they passed to the south, north, east or west of us.
As far as April and the spring goes, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecasts an equal chance Minnesota will see either above or below normal temperatures over the next 30 days and 90 days.
The first ten days of April are predicted to have temperatures well below average. The Weather Channel is predicting much colder than average temperatures for April.
The Climate Prediction Center says drought conditions should improve in Minnesota over the next 90 days