March 2020 was another warm month that lacked snowfall. Although we entered the first month of spring, it normally remains just snowy enough as the pattern is generally active during the seasonal transition. Yet, the Northeast’s snow drought continued. Although some snow fell in New England, much of the Mid-Atlantic saw zero, with the only traces well inland away from both the coast and I-95 corridor. Let’s get into the details…
High pressure lingering from February gave way to rain showers late in the day on March 2nd into the 3rd. Only a few flurries and light snow showers snuck in beforehand across interior New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, which only gave the area coatings to a few tenths of an inch. The progressive pattern lent to repeated rain storms and frontal passages, but little in the way of the white stuff as the cold stayed locked up to the north. Accumulations of snow were reserved for the highest hills to the north and west, mainly across the ridges of Pennsylvania through the Catskills, Berkshires, and hills of New Hampshire. One coastal storm on the 6th -7th did clip southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, which resulted in over 2” of snow for parts of Plymouth and Bristol counties.
A robust high pressure system gave the Northeast a break from precipitation during the second week of March, though this consequently sent temperatures well into the 60s and even 70s nearly everywhere. This warmth was swept away by a dry cold front on the 10th, but temperatures still were 10 to 15 degrees above the norm. On the 13th, another low pressure system arrived and gave a few tenths of rain to the region. Cooler air then settled in for the 16th and 17th, and allowed for temperatures to cool back to near average. As a result, some snow fell as a weak low tried to develop offshore, but was again on the order of an inch or less for the Hudson Valley through eastern Massachusetts.
Snow in Massachusetts, March 23, 2020. Via Twitter.
Warm air surged back in for the 19th and 20th, even breaking a record in Baltimore, MD as they reached 83 degrees! No snow was observed with this one, but this was the second rainiest storm of the month, with 0.50 - 1.00” recorded. However, the wettest system would hold off until the 23rd, which turned out to be our snowiest for where it was cool enough. So while it was a soaker for the Mid-Atlantic, northeastern PA through much of New England saw snow and even some sleet for southern areas, even including New York City and parts of Long Island. Several inches accumulated for interior areas but northern Massachusetts into New Hampshire saw a half foot or more!
The remainder of the period moderated closer to seasonable. However, as a sign of the changing seasons, one last system brought some severe weather for the 29th as a few storms produced small hail in Massachusetts. An upper level disturbance then kept the Northeast cloudy and rather dreary to end March.
For a decent portion of the region, the month landed in the top 10 warmest Marches on record. Baltimore in particular, topped 50 degrees for the third time, which made it the second warmest. Precipitation slightly underperformed, but not drastic enough to be concerned about dry conditions. And of course, snowfall was severely lacking everywhere, with even the 4.4” in Hartford, CT falling short of its 6.4” normal.