Happy First Day of March! Besides being known for college basketball and St. Patrick’s Day, March is also considered as the start of the transition from winter to summer.
Here is a look at how the weather pattern is shaping up across the Lower 48, including Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley. Keep in mind, this is an overall look at the pattern for March 2021. The daily/weekly variations in the forecast may not follow the outlooks exactly.
Current observations and model trends suggest an above average month for much of the Lower 48, the only exception being areas around the State of Washington in the Pacific Northwest.
Most of California and the northern Rockies are forecasted to have an average March overall with temperatures. The highest chance for a warm March is across the Gulf Coast and southeastern US.
Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are included in the above-average temperature risk.
Two areas of the Lower 48 are expected to see above-average rainfall this month.
The Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes/Ohio River Valley region have the best chance for seeing a wet March. There is a slight chance of higher rainfall this month in New England as well.
The driest weather in March is forecasted to be across the southern U.S., stretching from southern California to Texas and across the Gulf Coast into the southeastern United States. The highest chance for below-normal precipitation is across southern Texas.
Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are in the neutral zone, meaning the long-range pattern does not favor either a wet or dry month for us. Instead, we can expect our monthly rainfall totals to be around average in March.
March Monthly Preview
Now that we know what the overall pattern for March looks like, let’s take a look at some of the numbers for a typical month of March in NW Arkansas & the River Valley.
Things are warming up this month in Fayetteville (NW Arkansas), climatologically speaking. The average daily high temperature will go from the mid-50s to the mid-60s by the end of the month.
Those daily below-freezing nights also come to an end in March with our average daily low temperature rising from the freezing mark to 40°F.
If you haven’t noticed the days getting longer yet, you will this month. With an overall increase in daylight by 1 hour and 8 minutes, NW Arkansas will see an average daily increase in sunlight of 2.19 minutes in March.
You probably noticed the sunrise time seems to get later throughout the month, not earlier. Don’t forget about Daylight Saving Time! We “spring ahead” one hour at 2 A.M. on Sunday, March 14!
In the precipitation department, Fayetteville starts to see its monthly precipitation averages increase again. Overall, we typically see just under 4.00″ of rain in a typical March. However, this monthly rainfall total is actually part snow!
That’s right! NW Arkansas receives a monthly average 1.6″ of snow in March according to the climate records.
Fort Smith, AR and the River Valley get the entire range of the 60s in March, starting with a daily average high of 60°F and ending with a daily high temperature of 69°F.
Our average overnight temperatures will leave the 30s and go well into the 40s by the end of March in the River Valley. Some welcomed news for those of us who are not fans of the chilly, frosty nights.
The days are certainly getting longer in the River Valley as well. Overall, we gain 1 hour and 7 minutes of daylight throughout March. Daylight Saving Time in mid-March will bring back those 7:30 P.M. sunsets across the region.
You may be wondering why is the River Valley gaining a minute less of daylight compared to Northwest Arkansas. This is due to the tilt of the Earth. As we get closer to the summer, areas to the north will start to receive more daylight than regions to the south.
Just like Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith and the River Valley see their monthly precipitation averages start to increase in March too. With 3.85″ of rain on average for the month, Fort Smith and the River Valley is typically a tad bit drier compared to Northwest Arkansas.
In terms of wintry weather, Fort Smith receives an average 0.6″ of snow in March.
As we go throughout the month, be sure to stay up to date with your Weather Authority team on all the forecast details on-air, online, and on social media!