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March 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: Christopher C. Burt, 9:59 PM GMT on April 11, 2013

March 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary

March was notable for unseasonable cold weather in Europe and record heat in parts of Africa and Australia. Heavy snowstorms struck the U.K., northern France, eastern Europe, Russia and the central U.S. and northeast. The world temperature extremes for both cold and heat came within 0.5°C (0.9°F) of reaching their respective March all-time records (from -75.6°C/-104.1°F) in Antarctica to South Africa (47.3°C/117.2°F).

Below are some of the month’s highlights.


Several significant snowstorms impacted the central and eastern portions of the U.S. during March. A slow moving and large low-pressure system raked the east coast on March 6-8 bringing high winds and a flooding storm surge to coastal Massachusetts. Wind gusts of 40 mph+ persisted for three consecutive days on Nantucket Island while heavy snow fell inland with a top accumulation of 29.8” (75.7 cm) storm total measured at Walpole. On March 24-25 heavy snow buried St. Louis, Missouri with a 12.7” (32.3 cm) accumulation, the city’s 7th greatest snowstorm on record. A bit further east, Springfield, Illinois picked up 18.5” (47.7 cm), its all-time greatest snowfall since records for such were established there in 1881.

The all-time record snowfall of 18.5” on March 24-25 at Springfield, Illinois made many of the city’s streets impassable. Photo by Justin L. Fowler for The State Journal-Register newspaper.

The month was abnormally cool for the eastern two-thirds of the country in marked contrast to March 2012 which was the warmest March on record. It continued to be very dry in California where San Francisco ended up reporting its driest January-March since precipitation records were established in 1850. See my recent blog on this subject.

Extreme heat affected Vera Cruz and eastern San Luis Potosi States in Mexico March 22-24 with a reading of 46.0° C (114.8°F) recorded at Tempoal on March 24th and 45.3°C (113.5°F) at Tamuin on March 22nd. These readings are close or equal to the hottest temperature ever measured in March for anywhere in North and Central America.

The coldest temperature measured during the month in the northern hemisphere was -64.2°C (-83.6°F) at Summit, Greenland on March 4th.


An extreme local rainstorm occurred in Petropolis, Brazil on March 17-18 with 459 mm (18.07") measured in a 24-hour period. The resulting floods were responsible for 33 storm-related deaths in the vicinity. The record 24-hour rainfall for Brazil is 622 mm (24.49") measured at Itapanhau on June 20-21, 1947.

On April 1-3 a deadly flash flood occurred in the Buenos Aires and La Plata areas of Argentina resulting in the deaths of at least 57. Details on this can be found in my blog on the subject earlier this April.


This past March was one of the coldest and snowiest on record for much of northern Europe. It was the coldest March since 1962 in the U.K. and since 1952 for parts of Eastern Europe. The temperature averaged 5.6°C (10°F) below normal in Stuttgart, Germany. A series of exceptional snowstorms struck many locations, perhaps the most anomalous being the blizzard of March 11-12 that dumped up to 25 cm (10”) on the Chanel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey (U.K.) as well as the northern French provinces of Manche and Calvados. Heavy snows continued for the rest of the month with blizzards in Bulgaria producing 10-foot drifts and two storms burying Kiev, Ukraine under up to 50 cm (20”) of snow. In Moscow the snow depth reached 75 cm (30”) by March 26th, the deepest observed in the city for 20 years. Ironically, parts of extreme southern Russia sweltered with some of the warmest March temperatures ever observed in Russia. Grozny, Chechnya peaked at 32.9°C (91.2°F) on March 16th.

Another blizzard struck portions of England and Ireland on March 22-24 where 60 mph wind gusts whipped 10-50 cm of snow into 20-foot drifts. The official deepest measurement in the e U.K. was 41 cm (16.4”) at Middleton, Derbyshire on March 24th. Overall for the U.K. the temperature averaged 2.2°C (36.0°F) for the month, some -3.3°C (-5.9°F) below normal, the 2nd coldest March on record (since 1910 at least). It was also the coldest month of the extended winter this year and coldest single month since December 2010.

The temperature anomaly for the U.K. last March, the coldest month in the nation since December 2010 and 2nd coldest March on record. Map courtesy of the U.K. Met Office.

The lowest temperature measured in the U.K. for the month was -12.9°C (8.8°F) at Kinbrace (Sutherland) and Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on March 11. The warmest was 17.1°C (62.8°F) at Gravesend, Kent on March 5th. The greatest 24-hour precipitation measured during the month was 84.6 mm (3.33”) at Holne, Devon on March 21-22.


Unusual heat continued in South Africa, the western portion of which has been blistering since last November. Vioolsdrif reached 47.3•C (117.2°F) on March 4th. This was not only the hottest temperature measured in the world for the month but also the hottest March temperature ever measured anywhere in Africa (previous record being 47.0°C/116.6°F at Ndjamene, Chad in March 1936). The figure was also just 0.5°C (0.8°F) short of the hottest March temperature recorded on earth (which remains 47.8°C/118.0°F set at Roebourne, Australia on March 4, 1998 and Carnarvon, Australia on March 6, 2007).

On March 6th Navrongo, Ghana reached 43.0°C (109.4°F), the warmest temperature reliably ever measured in the country (for any month). Matam, Senegal registered 46.2°C (115.2°F) on March 21st, the warmest March temperature on record for that country and the warmest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the month.

A flash flood inundated Port Louis, the capital of the island nation of Mauritius, on March 30-31. This You Tube video captures the raging floodwaters that swept through the city. 152 mm (5.98”) of rain fell in just 90 minutes and 193.2 mm (7.61”) over the entire course of the storm (as recorded at Nouvelle Decouverte). At least 11 fatalities were reported, six of which occurred in a flooded underground pedestrian subway.

Incredible flooding overwhelmed Port Louis, Mauritius on March 31st drowning at least 11 people. Photo by Pascal Louise.


A violent complex of thunderstorms produced tornadoes and large hail in the southern Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong on March 20th. Eleven of the fatalities occurred when a tornado struck a ferry crossing a river in the Fujian region. Baseball-sized hail injured many in the city of Dongguan where strong winds also collapsed buildings.

Large hail that fell in Dongguan, China during the violent thunderstorms that struck the southern provinces of the country on March 20th. Tornadoes, hail, and high winds killed 24 according to press reports. Photographer not identified.

It was a blistering month in Thailand where Bangkok measured its hottest temperature on record (any month) with 40.1°C (104.2°F) reading on March 26th at the official downtown Metropolis station. An all-time record high temperature of 42.6°C (108.7°F) was also reported from Ban Tha Phra in the Issan district of northeastern Thailand.

Normally one of the wettest locations in the world Cherrapunji, India measured only 7.4 mm (0.29”) of rainfall in March, its driest March total since 5.8 mm (0.23”) was recorded in March 1909.


An extraordinary heat wave enveloped southeastern Australia during the first 12 days of the month. For details on the event please refer to my blog last month for details.

In spite of the heat wave, the month as a whole averaged just a bit above normal temperature-wise across the country as was also true for the precipitation.

Maximum temperature anomaly for (top) and precipitation (bottom) anomaly for Australia during the month of March. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The hottest temperature measured in Australia during the month was 46.0°C (114.8°F) at Roebourne, West Australia on March 20 and the coldest -3.6°C (25.5°F) at Perisher Valley, new South Wales on March 18. The greatest calendar day precipitation was 329 mm (12.95”) at Moorai Creek, New South Wales on March 3.


The worst drought in 70 years continued for portions of New Zealand during the month. Whakatane, North Island had its driest March on record with only 7 mm (0.28”) measured (8% of normal). For the first time ever drought was declared for the normally wet West Coast of the South Island. It was also unusually warm with the maximum temperature of 34.3°C (93.7°F) at Gisborne, North Island being the 2nd warmest March temperature ever recorded in New Zealand (since official records began in 1905). The coldest reading in the country during the month was -0.5°C (31.1°F) at Mt. Cook, South Island on March 19th and 20th. The highest calendar-day rainfall reported was 208 mm (8.19”) at Milford Sound on March 24th.

A tropical storm, Cyclone Sandra brushed Vanuatu and New Caledonia March 10-13 bringing heavy surf and heavy rain to the islands.


The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during March was –75.6°C (-104.1°F) recorded at Concordia station on March 27th (and also at Dome Fuji on March 31st). These figures were only 0.5°C (0.9°F) from the coldest temperature ever measured on earth during the month of March (which was -76.1°C/-105.0°F at Ago 4 site on March 31, 1994).

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data. Also thanks to Leandro de Oliviera for information concerning the flood in Brazil.

Extreme Weather

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

nice entry chris

climate shift is upon us
Diligent overview of a month to remember, thanks a lot. I'm really glad spring finally has entered Germany the week ago :-)
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
Your the man Chris..
Great post..
Amazing data..
TY.. :)