Seasonable March Temperatures and Decent Rainfall in the Midwest

April 11, 2023 // Article by: Shawn McGarrity


The Chicagoland area overall saw near-seasonable temperatures for the month of March, with the average temperature being 38.8°F (only a tad cooler than the normal 39.0°). Overall precipitation fared above average with 3.80” of precipitation (up from the normal 2.45” for March) though the monthly snowfall of 1.8” fell short of the typical 5.5” seen.

March started off relatively warm with highs in the mid 50s as rain showers worked through the region on the 1st. This warm spell was brief, however, for a cold front passed through overnight, bringing a return to more seasonable temperatures. Another system on the 3rd brought a wintry component to the region, though the mix of snow and rain largely held south of the city into central Illinois.

Milder temperatures returned on the 4th as highs passed the 50° mark once more. Several days of showery weather lingered in the area through the 6th, when some thunderstorms developed. Another period of cooler temperatures returned in their wake, leaving the second week of the month on a cooler note. During this span, daytime highs ranged from the mid 30s to mid 40s. 

It was during this cooler period that Chicago managed to see the “snowiest” day of the month as a system passed through the 9th - 10th. A tight gradient of snowfall totals favored areas to the north and west of the city proper, with Rockford measuring 7.3” of fresh snow whereas O’Hare only measured 1.2”. Once the storm exited the area, recurring snow showers persisted at times in the days that followed, bringing a few tenths of an inch of additional snow in the process. Some showers passed through on the 11th, though areas south of the I-88 corridor saw their precipitation fall as rain.

Total snowfall from March 9 - 10th event. Courtesy of NWS Chicago.

The Ides of March saw a return to milder conditions as highs again crept back into the 50s. Rain showers on the 16th brought a couple tenths of rain to the city before temperatures tumbled to their monthly lowest on the 18th, when the daytime temperature only reached 25°F. Scattered snow showers and flurries then hung about for the following dayes with the return to sub-freezing temperatures.

The final third of the month saw milder conditions for the city as highs fluctuated from the mid 40s to mid 50s. Some rain showers developed on the 22nd, becoming more organized on the 23rd. A decent rainstorm on the 25th brought 0.75” of rainfall to the city before flipping over to snow on the backside of the system overnight. Areas further to the north and west managed to accumulate several inches of snow, though Downtown Chicago had no measurable accumulation.

Snowfall totals from the March 24 - 25th event. Courtesy of NWS Chicago.

After that, the end of the month largely remained quiet until the 31st when temperatures reached their warmest (70°F) and a severe weather outbreak brought with it over a dozen confirmed tornadoes to the region.  Among them included several EF-1 and EF-2 rated tornadoes, with the closest confirmed tornado to Downtown Chicago being an EF-1 that passed from Lombard to Addison in western Cook County. This event also brought the highest rainfall total for the month, with 1.19”.


March saw temperatures remain near average for this time of year as overall average temperatures were 42.2°F (normal 42.4°). Like other areas in the Midwest, overall precipitation measured 6.03” (well above the typical 3.69”) with snowfall falling short of normal (1.5” measured compared to the normal 3.2”). 

Unseasonably warm temperatures were around to start off the month as temperatures reached 76°F. This unseasonal warmth did not persist long, for highs steadily tumbled back to the low 40s by the 3rd. Widespread heavy rain on the 3rd brought localized flooding and produced the rainiest day of the month with 2.24” recorded that day.

48 Hour Rainfall across Central Indiana, March 2nd - 4th. Courtesy of NWS Indianapolis.

Drier weather returned thereafter and remained the case into the second week of March. During this dry-spell, temperatures fluctuated and warmed back to the low 70s by the 6th. By the time precipitation returned on the 9th, returning showers remained for several days. A system on the 12th brought steadier showers to the city before flipping over to snow on the backside of a system, though most fell to the north. Even so, Indianapolis managed to measure 0.6” of new snow, which was followed by another quick burst of snow on the 13th that brought 0.7” of snow. 

Temperatures fluctuated considerably in the days that followed. After starting off in the 30s for both the 13th and 14th, highs warmed to the 50s by the 15th and remained so as rain showers developed. A short cold spell on the 18th and 19th saw highs struggle to climb out of the 20s (the daytime high on the 18th was only 29°). Warmer temperatures then prevailed, allowing for highs to climb into the 50s and 60s by the 23rd. 

A rainier pattern developed from the 22nd to the 27th, with repeated shots at showers and storms bringing substantial rainfall to the region. Though Indianapolis saw about 2” of rain during this period, areas to the south and east managed to see upwards of 4” of rain.

72 hour rainfall totals, March 22nd - 25th. Couresty of NWS Indianapolis.

By the time the showery pattern came to an end on the 28th temperatures had settled in the mid 50s. After a brief dry period in the days that followed, a severe outbreak on the 31st brought several tornadoes to the wider region, with an EF-3 tornado touching down near Whiteland with max winds of 140 mph. 


The first month of meteorological spring saw temperatures average around normal for this time of year, with areas in the central part of the state fairing a tad warmer than average. Overall, the average temperatures in Columbus and Cincinnati were 42.4°F (normally 41.6°) and 43.7°F (normally 43.6°) respectively. The month’s precipitation total exceeded the average with Columbus and Cincinnati measuring 5.22” (normal 3.62”) and 5.92” (normal 4.16”) respectively, though snowfall for both cities fell well below seasonal averages. Columbus managed to measure an inch of snowfall this month (where they typically see 4.1”) and Cincinnati measured 0.1”, below the normal of 3.4”.

An unseasonably warm start to the month saw both Columbus and Cincinnati reach their warmest day on the 1st, with each reaching 75° and 78° respectively. These highs broke daily records in both cities, the previous records having been 65° (set in 1972 and 1997) in Columbus, and 71° (set in 1976). This warmth didn't hold on long, for showers and storms passed through during the overnight (mainly south of Columbus) which returned once more on the 2nd, pulling highs down to the 50s. Unsettled weather continued into the 3rd as a more organized system pushed through, bringing the highest daily rainfall totals for the month, 1.60” in Columbus and 2.08” in Cincinnati.

A break from the showers came on the 5th as temperatures warmed, reaching the low 70s by the 6th. Seasonable temperatures returned thereafter before rain returned on the 9th. Temperatures dipped into the 30s on the 12th as some wintry weather developed, mainly in the Columbus area which saw 0.4” of fresh snow. Snow showers lingered about for the 13th and 14th before a warmer air mass settled in on the 15th.

Milder air held around for a couple days as rain showers developed on the 16th, only to be briefly interrupted by a cold spell on the 18th that coincided with some light snowfall. Temperatures rebounded by the 20th with highs gradually rising in subsequent days. Several days of repeated rain showers occurred from the 23rd through the 25th, bringing decent rainfall each day, helping to bolster the month’s precipitation totals.

The closing days of March trended drier (with only a stray rain shower in Columbus on the 29th). Temperatures were largely consistent, with highs holding in the mid 50s to low 60s. A disturbance on the 31st ushered in a return of showers and storms, with late-day storms turning severe across the region. The worst of these storms continued overnight and spilled into the start of April, even producing an EF-1 tornado in Auglaize County during the early morning of April 1st.