Say it ain’t snow: winter weather continues, March expected to be colder than normal in ND

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 7:06 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s the time of year when it’s easy to get weather whiplash. Bismarck had temperatures top out in the 40s on Monday and next thing you know we have a foot of new snow blowing around.

As parts of the state woke up to several inches of snow and blizzard-like conditions Wednesday morning, it was a stark reminder that winter isn’t over... not even close.

“As we look into the month of March, confidence is increasing in below normal temperatures for the month as a whole. We could see that trend continue even into the months of spring as that cold might linger for longer than many of us want it to,” said Meteorologist Jacob Morse.

Temperature trend for the March and for meteorological spring (March-May)
Temperature trend for the March and for meteorological spring (March-May)(KFYR)

Bismarck just set a record for the most snow to date. With Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning’s accumulation of 12.3 inches added in, the total for the season so far comes to 75.4 inches.

Bismarck snow through March 1
Bismarck snow through March 1(KFYR)

But the snow from Tuesday and Wednesday pales in comparison to the 22.4 inches that dropped in the historic March 1966 blizzard.

“While it was storming, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. So, when that finally ended, a lot of people, the only way they could get out of their house was to, you know, crawl out of a window, they couldn’t even get a door open to get out,” said Bill Koch of Mandan.

March 1966 blizzard snowfall map
March 1966 blizzard snowfall map(NWS)

The most snow for an entire season in Bismarck was set in the 1996-97 winter when 101.6 inches of snow accumulated. Between March and April, Bismarck averages about 13 inches of snow, which would bring us very close to breaking the all-time snowfall total. That could set the city up for a messy spring.

“The record we’re chasing for the most snow in a winter season is from 1996 to 1997 and a lot of that snow fell towards the end of that season. And if we are going to break that record we would need to get about 26 more inches towards the end of our snow season, which could lead to some flooding issues into the spring,” said Morse.

Meteorologically, we are now in the spring season, but in almost every other way, it still feels very much like winter.

Historically, March is the third snowiest month in North Dakota behind December and January.

Above normal precipitation is favored in the Northern Plains in March
Above normal precipitation is favored in the Northern Plains in March(KFYR)