Seasonable March Temperatures and an Impactful Nor'Easter

April 10, 2023 // Article by: Steven Weinstein

The beginning of meteorological spring brought the return of more seasonable conditions to the Northeast, as well as a pretty even mix of dry stretches and bouts of precipitation. While snowfall deficits continued for many places, the month was actually fairly active for some. Specifically, the beginning part of the month saw multiple quick hitting storm systems, which were followed up by a major Nor'Easter during mid-month that gave many across PA, Northern NJ, the Hudson Valley, and New England one of their last stints of winter.

Outside of some drizzle and rain showers to kick off the first few days of March, a coastal system on the 3rd - 4th brought the first round of wintry weather to the Interior Northeast. Despite some brief wet flakes at the onset of this system for far Northern MD and South-Central PA, this was a rainmaker for those across much of NJ, PA, and MD. Meanwhile, further north across the Hudson Valley, CT, and much of coastal MA this was largely a snow / sleet event where a dense 1-3" of accumulation fell. However, it was those across Western MA, NH, and across the mountainous regions of the Berkshires and Catskills that were the winners out of this event and where more significant snowfall amounts of 6"+ occurred. Some spotty coastal flooding also accompanied this system across the Eastern Seaboard, and especially across the Jersey Shore where scattered high wind gusts of 50 - 60 mph were reported. Then, after a briefly quiet and slightly mild few days, a quick hitting disturbance on the night of the 6th brought accumulating snow for Northeastern PA, and parts of Northern and Central NJ. This disturbance created a very sharp snowfall gradient. While many across these regions saw snowfall amounts of 1-3", the heaviest swath of snow fell in and around the I-80 corridor in PA where snowfall rates of 1-2" per hour were common, with 4-6" of snow falling in this area over a rather short span.

The next three days were largely dry, then an upper level low moved across the Northeast on the 10th - 11th producing a widespread 2-5" of snow for portions of Northern NJ, Northeastern PA, the Hudson Valley, and Western CT / MA. This was quickly followed by the biggest event of the month, a major Nor'Easter which impacted the Northeast on the 13th - 14th, before dissipating across New England during the early morning of the 15th. Any wintry impacts with this system occurred north and west of the I-95 corridor, which also led to very sharp snowfall gradients that were that were almost exclusively rooted in elevation differences. While a general 2-6" of snow was prominent from northern PA/NJ into New England, major snowfall accumulations occurred across portions of the Worcester hills in Massachusetts, Southern NH, and across the mountainous terrain of the Berkshires and Catskills where upwards of 1.5-2 feet or more fell, making this the largest snowfall event of the season. The dense and heavy, wet snow in these areas led to downed trees and power lines, with the system also producing minor coastal flooding and strong winds all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. 

Shared picture by NWS New York of a snowy scene in Putnam County, NY during the Nor'Easter event on March 14th, 2023. 

As we progressed past the middle part of the month and the Spring Equinox, climatology began to win out, minimizing winter weather. As such, a generally quieter weather pattern prevailed during this time with just some rain showers. Perhaps most notable during this time was the passage of a rather robust cold front on the 18th which ushered in a brief, unseasonably cold air mass. This air mass led to daily record lows being set across many Northeast climate sites on the 19th and 20th, with these records stretching from Boston all the way down to Richmond, VA. However, temperatures quickly rebounded as this was ironically followed up by daily record highs in the 60s across many Northeast cities on the 22nd and 23rd. Temperatures spiked all the way into the 80s on the 23rd for portions of the Mid-Atlantic where daily records were also set. A system on the 25th then brought rain for most across the Northeast, though an evening changeover to snow / sleet led to minor accumulations of a coating - 1" across Southern NH. Further south, this system provided a glimpse of the impending severe weather season with storms firing along and south of the I-95 corridor in New Jersey. These storms produced scattered reports of pea to penny sized hail. Otherwise, outside of a largely seasonable stretch to close out the last week of March and a few rain producing systems, the other notable feature was a line of mixed rain / snow showers along a potent cold front that trekked across the Northeast during the nighttime of the 29th. This led to some spotty coatings of snow mainly on grassy areas across portions of Interior New England and Northern NJ / PA. 

Retweeted image and video by NWS Mt Holly of small hail that occurred in Southern NJ during the evening of March 25th, 2023.

Overall, high and low temperatures for March 2023 were more seasonable, only running a degree or two above normal across portions of the Northeast. Precipitation wise, it was a tale of three tiers, with the Mid-Atlantic running 1.5-3" below normal, NJ and PA running 0.5-1" below normal, and much of New England running near to even slightly above their normal monthly precipitation.