DC March weather outlook: hot and wet

March is all set to tease us with an early wave of spring-like warmth and innumerable rainfall to water our gardens. But, it may become cooler by the middle of the month.

We're projecting the average March temperature in the DC area to be 3 to 5 degrees above the norm of 47.6 degrees. This would mean conditions similar to 2020, 2021 and 2022 (in which the average temperatures were 53.2, 51.2 and 50.4 degrees).

As for precipitation, we predict above normal amounts of between 4 and 6 inches, compared to the norm of 3.5 inches. Snowfall should be less than the standard 2 inches for the month, but we can't completely rule it out during a brief cold spell.

Forecast models are simulating a very warm and quite rainy first half of the month.

Already, the National Weather Service is predicting we could get about half of the projected rainfall during the first week of March.

However, around March 15, we may see a shift towards more normal temperatures and less rainfall.

As we enter the second half of the month, the atmospheric pattern that meteorologists study, often referred to using acronyms, is a jet stream expected to support a shift toward cooler weather. Can generate configuration. The map below, showing weather patterns for the second month with labeled abbreviations, suggests that the jet stream may begin to dip more over the eastern United States, allowing cold air to spread southward. Is.

Here's what these abbreviations mean:

  • -EPO, the negative phase of the Eastern Pacific Oscillation, and +PNA, the positive phase of the Pacific North American Pattern, indicate that the jet stream will make a large excursion northward over Alaska and western North America. This results in mild weather in the west but cold weather in the east as the jet stream dives south like a swing.
  • -AO, negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, and -NAO, negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, indicate a southward displacement of cold air over the high latitudes of central and eastern North America.

The development of these patterns – likely a response to the disruption of the polar vortex – will set the decks for cold and stormy weather across the eastern United States. There's little confidence that they'll turn out exactly like this, but the fact is that models are leaning toward a cooler second half of the month.

The cooler second half of March will be quite a change from what we are experiencing.

Washington's average temperature last month was 44.4 degrees, or 4.4 degrees above normal, and it was the seventh-warmest February on record.

Only 1.41 inches of rain and melted snow fell, a decrease of 1.21 inches, making it the 22nd driest February on record.

We had predicted February to be milder than normal, but it was even warmer than we expected. We called for it to be 2 to 4 degrees warmer than normal (compared with the actual 4.4 degrees). Our forecast rainfall of 2.5 to 3.5 inches was much higher than that, and our snowfall forecast was also very aggressive. We were predicted to get 3 to 6 inches of snowfall, and only 0.1 inch accumulated.

During the month, we experienced only four days that were colder than normal.

The month's lowest temperature in Washington (measured at Reagan National Airport) – 42 degrees on February 17 – was the hottest on record, topping 41 degrees in 1998.

Additionally, only Dulles International Airport achieved temperature records during the month:

  • Dulles' high of 65 equaled the record set in 2023.
  • Dulles' minimum temperature of 48 was the warmest on record, up from 41 in 2020 and 2023.
  • Dulles' minimum temperature of 47 was the hottest on record, up from 46 in 2009 and 2020.
  • Dulles's high of 69 tied the 1977 and 2002 records.

With two months left in 2024, we can compare its average temperature and rainfall with previous years. Even with a dry February, our wet January has helped get the year off to a wetter than usual start:

Temperatures are running significantly warmer than normal, but not as hot as this time last year, which was the warmest February on record:

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