3/6/15: A Taste of Spring

March has started off quite cold with temperature anomalies from average for the first five days of the month in the -15° to -10° range.

Temperature Anomalies from average March 1 through March 5, 2015
Temperature Anomalies from average March 1 through March 5, 2015


But the current upper-level wind pattern is from the northwest.  This pattern has been with us for almost all of February into the first week of March, yet the warmth that has been dominating the western part of the United States will be shifting easterly in the next week.


500 MB flow Today
500 MB flow Today


By the middle of next week that flow will be more zonal (west to east) allowing for much warmer Pacific air to move into the upper Midwest.  With limited snow cover and a stronger March sun temperatures should reach levels well above average with the warmest temperatures toward the middle of next week.




500 mb Flow Next week.
500 mb Flow Thursday March 12

If there ever is such a thing as a normal March, there would  be 6 to 12 inches of snow cover on the ground (in especially eastern ND) and the warm up that is coming to the area next week would induce several days in a row with highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s.  The significant snow cover melting would induce low level cooling as the snow melted and as the moisture evaporates, which is a strong cooling effect.   That would limit the high temperature potential significantly.  Plus, all the low level moisture would create fog and low clouds also holding back the temperatures.  But that would be a “normal” March.  This year with the lack of snow cover, that process should not occur.  The minimum snow cover will melt quickly, and with the bare ground and the vast sea of dark soils exposed in our agricultural landscape, temperatures will be be able to surge well beyond the 40° range.

Not all of next week will be this warm, but there should be, even in the traditionally cooler eastern part of North Dakota temperatures in the 50s with even a 60° high not out of the question in the southern Red River Valley.  Western North Dakota will more likely record such extreme warmth or warmer, as temperatures that warm were recorded on a few occasions even in the generally colder month of February.    Conservatively, widespread 40s and 50s are expected with the warmest readings looking to be in the Tuesday through Thursday time frame.  Little if any moisture is foreseen.

Before that extreme warmth (for the time of year) arrives, this weekend will be warmer, but not quite that warm with 30s in the east and 40s and the west.  There will be a small threat of snowfall across northern North Dakota into northwestern Minnesota later today into this evening.

From the post on Wednesday, it appear this stretch of warmth will last all of next week and perhaps even into the early part of the Week 3 of March before temperatures drop to seasonal or below seasonal norms for the last week to 10 days of March.    That too would be very typical of our climate for early spring.

Enjoy the warmth.  Should be a great stretch of temperatures after our long cold winter.

Daryl Ritchison