By Arthur A. Francis
---- — SALEM — Winter weather was prolonged throughout March. We had a total of 28.2 inches of snow here in Salem. The biggest snow event occurred on the 7th and 8th, when we were blanketed by more than 16 inches of snow. Strong, damaging winds gusted up to 49 mph, resulting in much drifting.
The other major storm was on the 19th, when an additional 11 inches were measured. An unusual aspect of this snowstorm was that it was accompanied by a thunderstorm. With these snow events, we ended up with a total snowfall for this season of an impressive 70.6 inches.
During our period of observations from 1977 to the present, this March was our second-snowiest. Our greatest March snowfall occurred in 1993 with an unprecedented 51.5 inches.
This year, March temperatures were close to normal. The highest temperature for the month was only 58 degrees on the 31st. The coldest was a chilly 17 degrees on the 18th.
Now, let us put winter behind us and be glad that April has finally arrived. It can be a special month with its intermittent spring showers, interspersed with the bright sunshine of the lengthening daylight hours. And we are happy to enjoy the gradual rise in temperature that produces the budding trees and all of the colorful blossoming crocuses, daffodils and tulips of springtime.
Our daytime high temperatures are normally in the mid-50s, dipping to the mid-30s by dawn early in the month. By month’s end, the daytime highs climb into the mid- to upper 60s, with nighttime readings in the middle 40s. Over the past 30 years, our highest April temperature here in Salem was a summerlike 96 degrees in 2002. Our lowest reading was 14 degrees in 1982.
We have had some interesting April extremes in precipitation. During our 30-year period of record-keeping, we had two significant blizzards that swept over the North Shore. Most of us remember the April Fools’ Day Blizzard of 1997, which, combined with March 31, gave us 25 inches of snow accompanied by winds with gusts to 74 mph. Fortunately, due to warmer temperatures and brilliant sunshine, the snow disappeared quickly.
The other April blizzard occurred in 1982 and gave us 15 inches of snow. This storm was accompanied by gale-force winds with gusts clocked at more than 60 mph.
Sometimes, April has given us heavy rain that resulted in flooding. In 1987 and 2004, we had rainfall totals of over 10 inches.
MARCH WEATHER IN SALEM
Temperature: High 58, low 17, average 37
Wind: Peak gust 49 mph on the 8th
Rain: 4.39 inches
Snow: 28.2 inches