Alabama 811 | Know What's Below.

March Almanac

Updated with 1981-2010 Climatological Norms

A transition time has arrived in Central Alabama, as we enter the month of March and the start of Meteorological Spring. As you will notice, the daytime will start to get longer as we progress through the month. With the lengthening of the daylight, along with the sun moving higher in the sky, the daily average temperatures start to climb. The average daytime high at the beginning of the month starts off at 62ºF in Birmingham, while the average overnight low starts at 40ºF. By the time you reach the end of the month, those temperatures have risen to 71ºF for the average high, and 47ºF for the average low. On average, the temperature drops to or below the freezing mark on 6.1 days in March, with the last freeze usually occurring in mid to late March.

Looking back in the record books, the warmest March day ever recorded in the city of Birmingham happened back on March 21, 1907. The city was in the middle of an unusual heat wave, and the afternoon high climbed to an astounding 90ºF… not just hot for a day in March, but that’s hot for any part of the year. That temperature was recorded at the old official observation station located in Fountain Heights. The hottest March temperature ever recorded at the current official observation station at the Birmingham Airport was 89ºF back on March 19, 1982. As far as the coolest March overnight low, it occurred on March 14, 1993, right after The Blizzard of 1993 came to an end in Birmingham. With 13 inches of snow on the ground at the Birmingham Airport, the mercury dipped to an incredible 2ºF.

As far as rainfall, March turns out to be the wettest month of the year on average in Birmingham. Out of the 31 days in the month, it usually rains on 11 of those days, with 4.6 of those days involving thunderstorms. March’s average rainfall is 5.23 inches, but it can be rather dry or rather wet on occasions. The driest March occurred back in 2007 when a meager 1.02 inches fell in the Magic City. On the opposite side, the wettest March occurred during a month that involved flooding. 15.80 inches fell in Birmingham back in 1980, easily taking the prize for wettest March ever.

Sunshine is actually on the increase, as the average percentage of possible sunshine for the month of March is 55%. That is more than what usually happens in January when the percentage is only 42%, but still is much less than May and October, which averages 66% each.

March is actually a windy month as well. It is tied in first place with April as the windiest month throughout the year, with an average wind speed of 7.6 MPH.

As I mentioned in the title of this post, March is also the start of our Spring Severe Weather Season in Central Alabama. The deadliest tornado outbreak in Alabama’s history occurred on March 21, 1932. During that tragic day, 268 people lost their lives, and 1,864 were injured. Back then, there were no tornado warnings, no radar, no television, no satellites, very few radio stations, and very few telephones in rural Alabama. Maybe with today’s technology, those totals would have been much less. Be sure to have a plan if severe weather threatens your location. Know the difference between watches and warnings, and know the dangers of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. We hope and pray that we will never have to experience another March 21, 1932, April 3-4, 1974, or April 27, 2011.

Photograph by Kathy Bell, owner of kbella photography.