Why is March weather so weird?

March 14, 2019, 11:59 a.m.

After a long winter, March is a welcome sight. It brings with it the first day of spring, and that means relief from the cold and the dreariness of winter.

Or does it?

March can be a messy time for weather, but then again, no transition is easy. This is, according to Weather.com in 2017, especially true for the northern part of the U.S., though all parts of the country experience weather weirdness in March.

1. Snowstorms and cold temperatures can persist. Despite the arrival of spring, March can bring plenty of snow. Denver often pulls in 20 percent of its annual snowfall during the month, while 5 to 6 inches can pile up in Chicago. In 2017, Washington, D.C., experienced a weirdo cold snap following a "false spring" in February, making that March colder than February for the first time in more than 30 years.

According to Weather.com's 2019 spring forecast, the Pacific North American Oscillation, a recurring weather pattern, is in its negative phase and that means colder weather in the Northwest and some of the Plains. The upside, at least for those in the Southeast, is that temperatures should be near or slightly above average.

2. Mud and floods. All that snow that piled up during winter proper is more than just annoying to drive and walk through. Eventually, that snow will melt and the ground will absorb it. But if the ground is still swollen with snow melt when heavy rains arrive, flooding can happen — and quickly. This is particularly worrisome in the Ohio Valley, Mississippi Valley, Red River Valley and parts of New England.

3. Warm teases. Perhaps just outright annoying compared to other instances of odd weather in March, low pressure systems can result in spikes of warm weather that can reach the 70s, depending on the location. However, these spikes are all too brief, and often presage the arrival of unpleasant cold snaps.

4. Tornadoes. Sometimes, that warm weather spike isn't a spike, and the result — while a nice break from cold weather — can also mean severe weather. As changes in the air arrive with spring, tornadoes can form. While the tornado count varies wildly, from 11 in 2015 to 154 in 2012, the twisters can still cause plenty of damage. This year, early March tornadoes swept through parts of Alabama and Georgia and killed at least 23 people.

5. Wind. An energetic jet stream stirs up plenty of wind, and March is often the windiest month for many states, according to Weather.com. It's great for flying kites, sure, but it's also great for blowing up plenty of dust into areas.

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