March was warmer than normal in D.C. with a dash of snow

WEATHER NEWS: March was warmer than normal in D.C. with a dash of snow

The month’s warmest temperature of 80 degrees happened way back on March 7; the mercury plunged to 21 degrees just six days later.

March’s average temperature of 50.4 degrees was 2.8 degrees warmer than normal and the 15th-warmest on record. The mild temperatures helped the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom on March 21, 10 days earlier than average.

Rainfall of 2.77 inches was 0.73 inches drier than normal and the 55th-driest on record. Snowfall of 0.9 inches was still the most in four years, but also about 1.1 inches lower than normal.

Looking at the calendar for March, below, shows how the warm days outnumbered cooler ones amid plenty of variability:

Temperatures ranged 58 degrees during March. Our warmest weather occurred three weeks ago, with that 80-degree high on March 7, while the coldest afternoon occurred Monday, when it was just 42. Here are when the extremes occurred:

A few records were broken in March. Here is the breakdown:

  • Dulles set a record high of 78, besting 70 from 2004.
  • Baltimore set a record high of 78, besting 76 from 1935.
  • Washington set a record high of 80 degrees, besting 77 from 1961.
  • Dulles set a record high of 77, besting 76 from 1974.
  • Baltimore set a record high of 79, besting 76 from 1974.
  • Washington set a record warm low temperature of 57, besting 56 from 2012.
  • Dulles tied the record high of 76 degrees from 2012.

Nationally, the prevailing pattern was quite variable, but overall the coasts basked in warmth while it was chilly over the Rockies and the Plains.

La Niña conditions, which have prevailed for about two years, tend to favor warm and dry weather in the Washington region. However, springtime periods can be quite variable.

With the first quarter of the year now complete, here is how 2022 temperatures compare with other years and periods of time in Washington:

It’s been milder than average overall, and, coincidentally, our average temperature is identical to last year’s at this point.

Below, you can see how precipitation so far this year compares with the past:

Overall, we’ve been a little drier than normal.

In our story a month ago, we called for a mild and dry March with plenty of variability. This outlook worked out correctly. The call for temperatures 2 to 4 degrees warmer than normal range was accurate considering the actual departure from normal of 2.8 degrees. The prediction for rainfall ranging from 0.25 to 1.0 inches below normal also worked out well given the shortfall of 0.73 inches. We’d give our March outlook an A+.

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