March is known for it's wild weather. Temperatures can range from subzero to the 80s. Snow can pile up... or it could be a beautiful, sunny day... or strong storms could produce tornadoes. You can get it all in March. So far in my local area we've had temperatures near 60 degrees, temperatures in the teens, some beautiful days, some rain, some sleet... oh and over 10 inches of snow. This doesn't rank in the top 10 for March snowfall... but it is the snowiest March in Cedar Rapids (and much of my local area) since 1984!
With the sunshine Sunday we were able to view this most recent snow from space. This image is courtesy of the National Weather Service in Milwaukee.
You can see the sharp cut off on satellite... but it's even more impressive from the sky. This is an image from Indiana.
Pretty incredible! With the strong March sun the snow did start to melt away. Even more will melt on Monday with above freezing temperatures, rain... and even some thunderstorms. Ahead of this system warm air will move in and, despite the snow cover, temperatures will climb above freezing.
As the storm moves closure moisture will move back in. There will be the potential for fog where snow is on the ground as warm air moves in over the cold ground. Then rain will move in late Monday.
There will be minimal instability, but there may be enough for some isolated thunderstorms in parts of the state. The European seems a little bullish, but here's a look at the CAPE (convective available potential energy) - a measure of instability.
There will be some decent moisture around, and this will allow for some moderate rain showers. The GFS is on the high end for rainfall totals -
The 3km NAM is lower and seems closer to reality.
Of course most of this rain will not get absorbed, but it will help speed up the melting process of the snow. Rain will move out early Tuesday, but this will continue an active period of weather. Several more systems will move through the Midwest over the next 7-10 days. Temperatures won't be overly warm either. Here's an example with the meteogram for Cedar Rapids over the next 15 days -
There will be some warmer weather during the middle of this week before temperatures go back below normal into the start of April. With cooler temperatures, the potential exists for some of these storms (in the 7-10 day period) to produce wintry precipitation still. There is still some time for this to change, but here's what I'm talking about with the next system on Thursday -
A rain/snow mix will be possible... then watching signs of a stronger storm next weekend or early next week somewhere in the Midwest.