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It hit 84 degrees on March 20, 2012, when Theresa Thompson photographed daffodils in bloom.

From balmy to frigid: A tale of two Marches

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
University of Saint Francis student Chloeasiah Stewart waits for her bus, bundled up against Thursday’s chilly winds and occasional snow flurries.

– There were a few brave souls milling about in the crowd, one that gathered on a brisk and gray St. Patrick's Day Sunday.

Some of the young women donned tank tops, and some of the young men who chatted up those young women shivered in thin green T-shirts while holding cold bottles of beer in their bare hands.

But for the most part, the thousand or so people outside Deer Park Pub on Leesburg Road had layered up – and then layered up some more – before the bar's annual People's Parade around the block.

With the temperature in the 30s, it wasn't a day to forget your stocking cap.

"Remember last year?" said one man, marching in what's billed as the world's shortest parade. "Man, it was in the 70s. We were wearing shorts."

To be precise, the temperature that day had been a record 76 degrees.

But it's no longer March 2012, an anomaly, when temperatures climbed well into the 80s, breaking several records. Never had a spring felt like so much like a summer.

It's definitely a little colder now, even for March. But it's also back to normal, more or less.

"It's the 31st coldest start to March," said Nick Greenawalt, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Syracuse, citing data going back to 1912.

The average temperature for March is 38.4 degrees, according to Greenawalt. Through Tuesday, the average temp for March 2013 was 32.2 degrees.

"That's not a terribly big difference," Greenawalt said.

Still, we could be in store for another record if the average temperature for the month stays in that 32-degree range.

Last year's average temperature for March was 52.6 degrees, the highest ever recorded in Fort Wayne, breaking the previous record of 48.1 degrees set in 1946.

That made Greenawalt curious, and he began poring over data: Never in the past 101 years have the same months of consecutive years shown a 20-degree difference in average temperature. But that's within reach.

"It's certainly possible, unless there's some warmer weather," Greenawalt said.

The forecast through the start of next week calls for highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s and lows in the 20s. Some snow is also possible.

On Thursday, Fort Wayne was treated to a record low for March 21 when the temperature dipped to 11 degrees, breaking the previous mark of 12 degrees set in 1906 and tied in 1960.

Last year, the area was stuck under a ridge of high pressure that brought a southerly flow, Greenawalt said. That's what accounted for nine straight days of record highs – March 14 to 22. On March 21, it hit 87 degrees, the highest temperature ever seen in March.

This year, there's a trough of low pressure sitting over the northeast part of North America, causing the current temperatures. So instead of fun and sun, we've been getting snow and ice.

Instead of trips to the fountains at Headwaters Park, we've been getting frozen ponds, cars sliding off the road and a wind that can really nip the nose.

And it might not be letting up anytime soon, if the weather service's preliminary indications hold out.

"The pattern is really anchored in here, at least through the end of the month," Greenawalt said. "Once we get toward the end of the month and early April, we might get some southerly flow and warmer temperatures."

Which means you shouldn't put away your sweaters and coats just yet, and if you find yourself outside at a beer tent or bar or concert amid a crowd, do yourself a favor:

Put on a sweatshirt.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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