, Salem, MA

April 2, 2014

Cold March gives way to promise of April warmth

By Arthur A. Francis

---- — SALEM — March was a month of rather insignificant weather, except for the very heavy rainfall toward month’s end. During the period from the 29th to the 31st, we had an impressive 3.7 inches of rain. This, fortunately, brought our precipitation above normal. The total for March was 4.86 inches. There was very little snowfall, with a total of only 4.6 inches here in Salem.

Our temperatures were considerably below normal and ranged from a high of 60 degrees to a low of 6 degrees above zero. We had many windy days, which made our temperatures feel much colder.

We were fortunate that the significant snowstorms of the month occurred to the south and north of us. This was especially so concerning the blockbuster storm that passed offshore on the 26th. We received the exceptionally strong winds here with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. The disastrous Boston fire was intensified by these winds.

Now April, the first full month of spring, has arrived with the promise of warmer temperatures bringing the fragrant blossoms of spring.

At the beginning of the month, our high temperatures are usually in the mid-50s, while early-morning readings drop to the mid-30s. Toward month’s end, highs reach the mid-60s and drop to the mid-40s by sunrise. The highest April reading in our records, dating from 1977, was a summer-like 96 degrees in 2002. Contrast that with the 14 degree low in 1982.

Precipitation is typically showery, interspersed with the bright sunshine of lengthening daylight hours. Normally, we receive about 31/2 inches of rain. We had an impressive storm in 1987, however, when we broke all April records and received 10.7 inches of rain that resulted in much flooding locally.

We can still have snow. Usually, snowfall amounts are very low. The big exception was the April Fool’s Blizzard of 1997. That unprecedented nor’easter began on March 31 and continued throughout April 1. The total snowfall was 25 inches! Northeast winds were extremely strong with gusts in Salem that reached 74 miles per hour. A thunderstorm was associated with the storm, as well. Heavy drifting snow was a significant problem. This event set a new record for the month and the greatest snowstorm so late in the year.

Arthur A. Francis is a Salem meteorologist.