ACON - VA/NC/SC
The Atlantic Coast Observer Network:
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
Report Above Normal
Upon review of your reports, March 2003 indicated a trend away from the past three months with all areas reporting above normal temperatures. Most stations noted increased precipitation although noticeable rainfall deficits were recorded in Southeast Virginia and slight deficits were noted near the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. Late winter and early spring warming continued as a series of high pressures moved southeast across the Mid-Atlantic. Cold fronts provided most of the moisture but one low pressure of particular note developed along the cold front of the 30th and provided siginificant moisture in central NC into southwestern and central Virginia that, when meeting with cold air plunging south behind the front, triggered significant wet snows in those areas, ranging from an inch or so in north central NC to between 5 and 8" in the corridor between Roanoke and Blacksburg, with greatest amounts in the Blacksburg area. In these areas of wet snow, temperatures the day before had reached 75 to 80°! As the seasons change, the area normally experiences some remarkable extremes. While some temps in the teens were reported in northern areas, daily lows were above normal. But max temps rarely rose above the lower 80s in a month where it is common to see a brief rise to near 90° during the month throughoout the years. The month was not particularly windy, disspelling the well-known label given to March as our windiest month.
Our periodic feature, Member Profile, continues with a visit with Robert M. Beall of Herndon, member since we began these ACON files back in 1995.
When Bob told me he was 80, I responded that I should be so lucky to make it to 80. He replied, "Geez! 80 doesn't seem old to me! Two weeks ago I attended a celebration of a colleague's 90th and one of those in the party was 97. However, my knees and other joints don't permit running and I am careful on stairs. A small stroke three years ago didn't help." [Geez, Bob, I'm in serious trouble...I'm only 51 years OLD and my knees and joints don't allow me to run! And I hold the hand rail on every descent of the stairs.]
Bob continues, "Be that as it may, I became quite aware of adverse weather during high school days in Quebec, slogging through snow in below zero temps and sometimes skiing to school.
I enlisted at Chanute Field in February 1941 to be trained in aerial photography. Too many wanted to do the same thing. So, after an aptitude test, I was persuaded to switch my career path to weather, but remained a photographer at heart. The observer's course was successfully completed in November 1941 and I was assigned to the Base Weather Station at Daniel Field, Augusta, Georgia. My first day on duty was December 6, 1941.
In March 1942, with 10 others, I was transferred to Baton Rouge, Louisiana as part of the Weather Detachment "Agate". The group was moved to Meridian, Mississippi, where I found myself selected to attend forecasters school at Chanute. The forecasters course was completed in November 1942 and I was assigned to Lake Charles, Louisiana, but not for long. After some overseas processing (shots and close order drill in the snow at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri) a large contingent embarked from New Orleans for the Panama. There, I pursued the forecasting life at Howard Field, Canal Zone, and mostly at Albrook Field in the Zone. I eventually attained the rank of Master Sergeant. After two years in Panama and reindoctrination, I was reassigned to Bradley Field, Connecticut, where planes were being ferried back to the States from Europe and into storage locations.
I was discharged in October 1945 and in time enrolled in the civil engineering curriculum at Rhode Island State College (being advised that the weather field was overcrowded). From there I was recruited by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division.
I worked in the field areas of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts where I became acquainted with snow course sampling along with my principal activity, streamgaging. Subsequent assignments in Cumberland and College Park, Maryland, led to a 3-year tour in Washington, DC, headquarters of the USGS where a chief hydrologist encouraged "backyard projects," to get office professionals involved with elements of scientific observations. The office to which I was assigned was given the minor task of designing an observer's book for recording daily precipitation and for distributing the rain gages to all who were inclined to take on this activity. About 50 did so at the height of the effort. The numbers declined over the years and personnel of the Weather Service who were doing something similar created a Washington area network and absorbed the USGS observers into what is not the Washington-Baltimore Climate Review (network) of more than 300 volunteer observers.
I have collected daily precipitation data since 1959 in Hyattsville, Maryland (2 years), Delmar, New York (parts of 8 years), Orange, California (2 years), McMurray, Pennsylvania (5 years), Herndon, Virginia (going on 27 years). The past 12 years have also included daily temperature extremes. In addition to the Climate Review, I provide a monthly summary of my data to this observer network and to the Herndon Department of Public Works.
This has been an overly-long discourse, but the early part of it is still fresh in my mind. Three years ago I started compiling photos and other memorabilia into a chronicle of my 4 years, 7 months, and 12 days in the U.S. Army Air Force. My son now has the 150-page notebook and hopefully is copying it.
above was taken at a retiree's reunion in San Antonia last fall (2002).
The shirt I am wearing was obtained at the Air Weather Association reunion
in Dayton, also last fall. My backup observer, wife Elinor, is also pictured
PRECIPITATION / BAROMETRIC PRESSURE
Annandale - Lowell reports:" March was only was a little above average in precipitation and temperature. March's mean monthly temperature was + 0.9° warmer than the average. The March rainfall had a +0.12" departure with 13 days having precipitation. March had 13 days with the temperature at or below freezing which was average. The lowest temperature was 17° on the 3rd that was only 2° below the average. The occurrence of a 42° temperature drop from 75øF at 1519 of the 29th to 33° at 2050 of the 30th with snow was perceived by most as a return to winter. The daily temperature range of 21.3° was the highest since 1988 which was 22.4° and near the maximum average daily temperature range record of 23.6° in 1986. The 2.29" of rain on the 20th was the second greatest daily rainfall amount for any calendar day of March in the last 23-years. The record is 2.67" that occurred on March 13, 1993. The total snowfall for March was 1.6" and was 1.4"inches less than the 23-year average which is 3.0". There were 9.8" of snow on the ground on the 1st which was the most since 1993. The 13 days with measurable snow on the ground was a new 23-year record; the old record of 11 days was set in 1993. The lowest wind chill (new Scale) for the month was +2.8° on the 3rd which also had the lowest dew point for the month of -10.6°. The maximum gust of 34 mph from the west on the 26th at 1429 was the strongest wind gust recorded for March. The maximum barometer reading of 30.40" on the 14th was the lowest maximum pressure recorded in March since 1992 when 30.34" was recorded on the 25th. There were 9 daily records set! March DAILY Records Tied or Broken- (23-Years of records): March had 1 daily LOW maximum record for the date - 31; March had 3 daily HIGH minimum records for the date - 17, 18, 23; March had 1 daily LOW minimum for the date - 31; March had 1 daily HIGH range for the date - 26; March had 1 daily HIGH precipitation record for the date - 20; March had 2 daily HIGH snowfall records for the date - 11, 30. - [ + + ]
Arlington - NWS WBC reports:" ...RECORDS... ON THE 20TH A RECORD RAINFALL FOR THE DAY, 1.95 INCHES BROKE THE PREVIOUS RECORD OF 1.60 INCHES SET IN 1958. ...SUMMARY... MARCH WAS A CHANGEABLE MONTH...AS SPRING MONTHS TEND TO BE. THE FIRST THIRD WAS GENERALLY COLD...THE REST OF THE MONTH WAS GENERALLY WARM...BUT THERE WERE WIDE SWINGS IN TEMPERATURE FROM DAY TO DAY. THE BEGINNING OF MARCH...THROUGH THE 11TH...WAS A CONTINUATION OF WINTER. THERE WAS SOME SNOW ON THE 1ST...AND DAYS WERE MAINLY IN THE FORTIES WITH A COUPLE WARM DAYS AND ONE DAY THAT DID NOT MAKE IT OUT OF THE 30S. DAILY LOW TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE 20S AND 30S. FROM THE 12TH ON...THINGS WERE WARM ON AVERAGE BUT THERE WAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. VARIOUS DAYS WERE IN THE 40S 50S 60S AND 70S. NIGHTTIME LOWS WERE MAINLY IN THE 30S AND 40S. THERE WAS A MAJOR RAINSTORM ON THE 20TH WITH 1.95 INCHES OF RAIN FALLING. THAT WAS ENOUGH FOR ANOTHER DAILY RAINFALL RECORD. A SIMILAR RECORD WAS SET LAST MONTH. MORE EFFECTS FROM OUR ACTIVE EL NINO WEATHER PATTERN THAT HAS BEEN IN PLACE THIS WINTER. AVERAGING IT ALL TOGETHER...MARCH ENDED UP BEING SLIGHTLY WARMER THAN NORMAL AND SLIGHTLY WETTER THAN NORMAL. Rainfall for the month was 0.6" above normal while average temps were 0.6° above normal. The average wind speed was 8.9 mph. [ + + ]
Ashburn - Gary sends these notes: " Just when you thought winter was over, the 1.1" of snow on the 30th was rather a surprise; fortunately, temps during the snowfall stayed just above freezing, so accumulation was minimized, but snowfall rates were pretty significant through much of the day. This came on the day following the warmest day (76.3°) of the year so far. Average dew point for the month was 34°. Average humidity was 71%. Wind run for the month was 1382 miles; the month as a whole was much less windy than is typical for March. Rainiest hour of the month was from 3-4PM during which period 0.50" of rain fell. Temperature ended up being 2.1° above average with rainfall being 0.41" below average (though we are still 0.67" above average year to date as of 4/1/03)." - [ + - ]
Blacksburg - NWS Blacksburg reports the monthly mean temp was 4.3° above normal while rainfall was 0.74" below normal. The average winds speed was 5.9 MPH. [ + - ]
Bridgewater - " The most exciting weather event for the month occurred on Sunday, the 30th. On this day, we received 3.5" of snow. Snow was predicted on Saturday's forecast, but not this much. The high temperature on Saturday was 78°. Early Sunday morning, it was 34° and snowing. I don't believe I have ever seen this much of a temperature spread across two days with snow occurring, especially in late March. It was interesting to see the robins hopping around in the snow. They look a little confused!" - notes from Clayton
Centreville - " A big newsmaker for March was the daytime high of 80° on the 29th and 3.2" of snow a day later. The temperature registered over 25° above the 54.5° average daily high, and played a big role in helping to boost the monthly average daily temperature to more than 5° over the 41.7° norm. A pair of 18's on the nights of the 3rd and 4th were the only teen temps during the month and were hardly enough to compensate for the generally warmer than usual readings that occurred during the last half of the month. Overall, the average nightly low recordings made it to almost 7° above the 28.9° normal low temperature. Any significant snowfall for March held off until the 30th when early morning rainfall turned to slushfall about 8 a.m. and continued that way until about noon. At that point the weight of the flakes was presenting a problem for accurate measurements. With good readings for most of the morning while the temperatures were slightly lower, no one would have known that for the last hour of recording the total was just a WAG and that my 3.2" total was not really scientific masterpiece. Hard to believe it was up to 80° only a day earlier. The water equivalent of 0.52" and the 2.09" of rain in 16 hours on the 20th were both a great help to bring our monthly totals up. Overall, we registered 4.54" of liquid; putting us 25% over the 3.43" average for the month. It certainly is a welcome change from a year ago. " - notes from Paul [ + + ]
Charlottesville - The monthly average temperature was 0.8° above normal while rainfall was 0.77" above normal. The average wind speed was 5.2 mph. [ + + ]
Dulles - The mean temp was 0.7° below normal. The monthly rainfall was 0.13" above normal. Average wind speed, 6.8 mph. - from NWS WBC [ - + ]
Falls Church - " March 2003 was about average to slightly below in temperature but above average in rainfall. This month did not live up to its title as windiest month. There were no major wind events to report. The end of March brought a brief return to winter. A strong cold front on the 29th knocked temperatures down from the 70s into the 30s. The following day, rain changed to snow around 9am and there were brief periods of snow showers on the 31st. Only a trace to report on grassy surfaces. " - notes from Erica [ +/- + ]
Hampton Dave sends his notes for March: " Normal conditions for Southeastern Virginia this March compared to some of the weather that can occur in March. Temps and precip pretty much on track, with a trace of snow on March 30. Looking forwared to April and the nice warmup."
Herndon Bob notes: " My average max temp was very near the Dulles "normal" and the average min was 2.5° above. Total precip was about 1/2 inch above the Dulles "normal"; Dulles is about 4 miles WSW and it's normal is the 1971-2000 average. " - [ +/- + ]
Herndon - " The monthly temperature was 0.8° above average, precipitation was 0.57" above average, snowfall was 0.6" below average. We had measurable snow on the 11th (0.1") and 30th (2.5"). Dense fog formed on the 21st. Thunder was heard on the 29th. Rainfall on the 20th set a new daily record of 1.96 in. " - notes from Russ [ + + ]
Lexington - Scott sends these notes: " Mean temp in Lexington of 47.2° was 1.8° above average. This was plesant given the previous three months were below normal and February was the fourth coldest on record and the coldest since 1996. Normal precipitation is 3.60" so we were slightly below but near normal. Our one snow event (3/29) provided 3.2" of snow which is the normal for March in Lexington. " - [ + - ]
Louisa - "February was certainly the 'winter' month here. Over 22" of snow and sleet for the month; the resulting melt has the ground water level up and Lake Anna's level a little above normal." - notes from Joe.
Lynchburg - Rainfall for the month was 0.34" above normal while the mean temp was 3.0° above normal. The average wind speed was 5.7 MPH. - from NWS Blacksburg [ + + ]
Norfolk - NWS AKQ reported the mean temp at ORF was 2.6° above normal. Rainfall was 1.17" below normal. The average wind speed was 9.9 mph. Sky cover was 50%. The average relative humidity was 77%. [ + - ]
Norfolk - The Fred Heutte Center, in Historic Ghent, noted a mean barometer reading of 29.985". The mean relative humidity was 81%. The average wind speed was 5.0 mph from a dominant W direction.
Portsmouth - Above normal temps and slightly less than average precip for March in what was a rather uneventful weather month. The first springtime TS occurred on the 13th with a cold frontal passage. While temps warmed to more springlike weather readings on several occasions, only one prolonged period of mild weather was noted from the 20th through the 29th. Several cold fronts heralded cool-downs, particularly on the 30th when temps dropped to the upper 30s and some measurable snow was noted to the west and southwest by some 50-100 miles. Some wet snow reported locally, but not at this site. Usually, March often sees some extremes and an occasional 90° reading on one or two days. However, the temps never climbed above 80° on any given day. Rainfall was 81% of the norm while year-to-date rainfall was slightly above normal at month's end. The average barometric pressure was 30.014". 14 days (45%) in the month had measurable rainfall, and that was above normal. Station records for the month include: 5TH - PRECIPITATION 0.46" [PREVIOUSLY 0.32" in 1997]; 7TH - TEMPERATURE MINIMUM MAXIMUM 37° [PREVIOUSLY 39° 1989]; 20TH - TEMPERATURE TIED MAXIMUM MINIMUM 48° [PREVIOUSLY 1998]; 21ST - TEMPERATURE MAXIMUM MINIMUM 58° [PREVIOUSLY 55° 1995]; 22ND - TEMPERATURE TIED MAXIMUM MINIMUM 50° [PREVIOUSLY 1991]; 26TH - TEMPERATURE MAXIMUM 80° [PREVIOUSLY 76° 1998]; 27TH - TEMPERATURE MINIMUM TIED 37° [PREVIOUSLY 37° 1982]. Winds averaged 4.0 MPH from a dominant S direction. The average relative humidity was 77.4% and the average sky cover was 51.3%. [ + - ]
Richmond - NWS AKQ reported the mean temp at RIC was 1.8° above normal. Rainfall was 1.83" above normal. The average sky cover was 70% while the average relative humidity was 74%. The average wind speed was 8.4 mph. [ + + ]
Mechanicsville - Glenn writes: " An exciting month with a variety of weather. T-storms on the 13th. T-storms on the 29th produced sharp lightning and strong winds. Sleet and snow on the 30th! "
Roanoke - Wendell reports: " A warm March at 2.7° above normal. Precip was 3.2" above normal. Snowfall of 5" was 2.4" above normal. - [ + + ]
Roanoke - NWS Blacksburg reports that the monthly mean temp was 2.2" above normal. Rainfall was 0.32" below normal. [ + - ]
Woodstock - " Wet (3rd in 18 years) and a bit warmer than average (5 of 18). And March went out like a lion with 5" of wet heavy snow on the last two days of the month. The daffodils and my apricot trees were in full bloom, alas. " - notes from Lauck [ + + ]
Asheville - from NWS GSP: The monthly mean temp was 3.8° above normal and the rainfall was 0.25" below normal. The average wind speed was 6.4 mph. Average relative humidity 70% while the average sky cover was 50%. [ + - ]
Charlotte - NWS GSP reports the mean temp here was 1.3° above normal and precip was 2.67" above normal. The average wind speed was 6.8 mph. The average sky cover and relative humidity were 70% and 73% respectively. [ + + ]
Elizabeth City - The Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station [ECG] reported an average wind speed of 10.7 mph. The mean temp was 1.2° below normal while rainfall was 0.15" above normal. The average relative humidity was 76% while the average sky cover was 50%. - from NWS AKQ [ - + ]
Fayetteville - NWS RDU reports the average wind speed was 7.7 mph.
Cape Hatteras - The average temperature was 55.0°. This was 3.2° warmer than the 1895-2003 average, the 22nd warmest February on record (1895-2003). 8.13" of precipitation fell in March. This was 4.02" more than the 1895-2003 average, the 5th wettest such month on record (1895-2003). - from NCDC [ + + ]
Greensboro - NWS RDU notes a mean temp here of 3.9° above normal. Rainfall was 2.84" above normal. The average wind speed was 8.1 mph. - [ + + ]
Hickory - The average wind speed was 5.7 mph. The average monthly temperature 1.9° above normal while rainfall was 2.19" above normal - from NWS GSP [ + + ]
Lumberton - The average wind speed was 7.2 mph. The average monthly temperature 4.2° above normal while rainfall was 2.82" above normal - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Raleigh - NWS RAH reported the monthly average temp was 2.6° above normal while rainfall was 1.18" above normal. The average relative humidity was 72% while the average sky cover was 60%. - [ + + ]
Raleigh - Bob reports: " Both the average daily temperature and precipitation for March were above the normal average. The only unusual weather occured at the end of March; the high on March 29th reached 79° while the next day snow was observed. Also quiet a bit of cloud cover during March with seven days of overcast skies. " - [ + + ]
Roxboro - Merriell writes: " March was warmer and wetter than normal. See-saw like temps ranged from 25 to 80°. A variety of weather and windy days made this a typical March. " - [ + + ]
Wilmington - From NWS ILM: The average temp was 2.9° above normal while rainfall was a 1.11" above normal. The average wind speed was 8.3 mph. [ + + ]
Anderson - NWS GSP reports the monthly mean temp was 1.8° above normal. Rainfall was 1.85" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.1 mph. - [ + + ]
Charleston - NWS CHS reports the monthly mean temp was 3.5° above normal. Rainfall was 3.20" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.7 mph. - [ + + ]
Columbia - NWS CAE reports that the mean temp here was 2.5° above normal. Rainfall was a 2.84" above normal. The average wind speed was 6.2 mph. Average relative humidity was 74% while the average sky cover was 60%. [ + + ]
Florence - The mean temp here was 1.5° above normal while rainfall totals were 1.13" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.3 mph. - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Greenville-Spartanburg - The monthly mean temperature was 3.1° above normal while rainfall was 1.42" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.0 mph. - from NWS GSP [ + + ]
North Myrtle Beach - The mean temp was 3.9° above normal while rainfall was 3.71" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.2 mph. - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Orangeburg - NWS CAE reports the average wind speed was 6.2 mph. The average relative humidity was 76% while the average sky cover was 50%.
Tri-Cities - Total precipitation amounts in March were much below normal across the area. Heavy rain events were limited during the month. Tri-Cities received 2.84" of precipitation during March, which was 1.07" below normal. It was the 18th driest March on record at Tri-Cities. Measurable precipitation fell on thirteen days, but less than a quarter of an inch was recorded on nine of those days. The heaviest rain fell on the 6th, when 0.52 inches was recorded. The driest March at Tri-Cities was back in 1985, when only 1.31 inches fell. The average monthly temperatures for March were well above normal across the area. Despite the warm weather, no daily records were broken. The average monthly temperature at Tri-Cities was 50.3°, which was 3.8° above normal. It ranked as the 12th warmest March at Tri-Cities. No daily records were broken. The warmest March at Tri-Cities was back in 1945, when the average temperature was 56.0°. - from NWS MRX [ + - ]
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