March 2011 Climate Data and MWN Forecast accuracy

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Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN
Overall, March was slightly warmer than average and also a little drier than average in Memphis. As winter transitioned to spring, there were plenty of chilly mornings, but also some very warm afternoons that were squeezed into a narrow timespan – for instance, a low of 35 degrees on the 16th was followed by a high of 78 degrees the next day.

The average March temperature was 54.2 degrees, which was 0.7 degrees above normal. The average high temperature was 63.0 degrees and the average low was 45.5. The temperature only dropped below freezing one time, when it reached 31 on the 11th. The average last freeze for Memphis is March 24th, so the growing season has started nearly two weeks early this year. The highest temperature for the month was 82 degrees on the 20th.

Precipitation for the month of March totaled 4.95″, which was 0.63″ below the normal of 5.58″ (March is, on average, one of the wetter months in Memphis). There were 12 days with measurable rainfall and the maximum 24-hour total was 1.42″ on the 5th. The peak wind gust was 43 mph on March 213st with an average wind speed for the month of 9.5 mph. Click here for a daily statistical recap for Memphis International for March.

National Temperature Analysis
The image below shows the average high and low temperature for the month for the entire nation, as well as the departure from normal (anomaly – right side panels). High temperatures were well above normal in the Desert Southwest and Southern Plains and well below normal in the Northern Plains and West Coast areas.  Low temperatures were above normal for much of the nation, especially the Rocky Mountains, and a little below normal over the Northern Plains.

Average high/low temps and anomalies for March 2011

Bartlett, TN
The average temperature for March at the WXLIVE! station in north Bartlett was 53.6 degrees with a maximum of 85.7 on the 20th and a minimum of 26.1 degrees on the 11th. Because of it’s location on the edge of the suburbs, this station is not affected by the urban heat island and therefore saw the low temperature drop below freezing on 5 days in March.

March precipitation ended below normal with a total of 4.77″. A co-located manual gauge used for the CoCoRaHS program measured 5.04″. The peak wind gust was 30 mph on the 17th. Average relative humidity was 67%. Click here for a daily recap on MemphisWeather.net.

MWN Forecast Accuracy
For the month of March, the average temperature error in all MWN temperature forecasts was 2.90 degrees, lower than all compared computer models, including the National Weather Service, and the only source under 3.0 degrees error. Over 50% of the MWN temperature forecasts for the month were within 2 degrees of the actual temperature. MWN’s forecasts extend out five periods (or 2.5 days). For dewpoint accuracy, the MWN forecast beat all data sources, averaging 2.86 degrees error and falling within 2 degrees of the actual dewpoint 58% of the time. Detailed accuracy statistics can be found here.

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