That tornado outbreak in the heart of Tornado Alley Wednesday finally put an end to what was a record run.
Until this year, March 23 was the record for the latest appearance of a first tornado in the month notorious for its violent clashes of contrasting air masses.
In all, eight tornados were reported, including an EF2 that touched down in Osage County, Okla., packing winds of up to 135 m.p.h., and cutting a path 800 yards wide and traveling 9 miles, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa.
Only 16 times in 142 years has the official temperature in Philadelphia failed to above 40 on a March 24. Yet it happened Tuesday (high, 40, or 16 degrees below normal), and on March 24, 2014 (high, 36).
Last March finished 4.6 degrees below normal in Philly; this March is on a similar pace, sitting at minus-4.2 through Tuesday.
That's not all the Marches have in common.
For the first time since reliable recordkeeping began back in 1950, not a single tornado has been reported in March in that world tornado capitol, the United States of America.
The previous longest wait for March tornado occurred in 1969, when a sighting wasn’t confirmed until March 23, according to Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla.
The atmosphere almost certainly will get friskier, and soon, and thunderstorms are possible around here on Thursday.
After quite a mild start, winter asserted itself on Jan. 26, and so far hasn’t paid much attention to the vernal equinox, with the longer term outlooks showing continued below-normal temperatures.
Since Jan. 26 through Sunday, the official temperature at Philadelphia International Airport was 31.2 degrees, with only 11 of the 56 days seeing above-normal temperatures.
That made it the coldest such eight-week period since 1978, and the ninth-coldest in records dating to 1874.
March 20 most certainly is late for a significant snowfall in the Philadelphia region, and astronomically speaking winter officially became toast at 6:45 p.m.
The atmosphere, however, often is slow to take the hint. In fact, in about half the winters in the period of record dating to 1885, snow has been measured officially in Philadelphia on March 20 or later; actually, on 100 different days.
This is probably not the time to share this fact, but 45 of them were in April, and not all of them would fall in the “nuisance” category.
This has been a classic March snowfall, one of those days when you might see snow on Billy Penn’s hat above City Hall, and nothing on the ground.
When they start coming in, snow totals are going to vary widely, and not just by location – but by elevation.
As often happens in March when temperatures are borderline, the region’s irregular topography is going to be a huge factor in whom gets what.
Spring’s arrival was a huge deal in Darby Borough in 1958, and not just because it came at the end of one of the snowiest winters on record.
Darby High School was heading to the PIAA basketball tournament in Lancaster and had a good shot at making the finals.
Pete McClure, who graduated in 1962, was a 13-year-old freshman, heading to one of five buses that would take him and classmates to the game. HIs bus was to leave at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19.
If we can believe the forecasts, the vernal equinox on Friday will feel a whole lot more like the winter solstice, with snow, perhaps even a few inches in parts of the region.
Spring snows certainly aren’t all that unusual, and snow has been measured in Philadelphia as late as April 24.
But the nor’easter that battered the area with heavy wet snow starting on March 19, 1958, a Wednesday, and continuing into the 21st , the first day of spring, was a hall of famer.