One of the larger post-equinox storms was in progress 20 years ago. March 1984 started very cold after a much above average February. Eight of the first 12 days of the month had below zero lows including three sub-20 below zero mornings. Temperatures then moderated a bit, though there were still two zero lows through March 19. Low pressure developed in the Lower Mississippi Valley early on the 19th (Image 1 above). The broad low-pressure system drifted slowly north-northeastward and it began snowing late on Tuesday, March 20, 1984. The next day, the system deepened and heavy snow pummeled much of Upper Michigan (Image 2). March storms usually bring a lot of water with them and this one was no exception. Nearly two inches of precipitation was measured in 17 inches of snow at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee.
The storm only moved from the southern Great Lakes to just east of the Sault by the 22nd. Snow continued to fall and strong northerly winds built large drifts. A daily record 13 inches of snow fell in Ironwood, while another 11 inches was measured by the NWS. The two-day storm dropped just under 30 inches of snow near Negaunee and chilly temperatures kept a thick snow cover well into the first week of April.
A big storm is not in the offing, but more arctic air is. The low bringing our snow this evening will quickly race to the Lower Great Lakes. Behind it, the cold will flow in on blustery northwesterly winds. March 1984 is among the coldest third months â??on the hillâ?? at the NWS with a mean of 17.5 degrees; the coldest is March 1965 at 16.9 degrees. So far this month is running a mean temperature of 13.4. With the cold weather expected this weekend into early next week, a new record-cold March is likely.