The month of March 2004 was warmer and drier than normal. The main weather event of the month was a small tornado which crossed southern Smith County on the afternoon of the 4th. Compared with March 2003, the month was 4.9 deg. warmer, and 0.24 inch wetter. Year-to-date rainfall through the end of March was 0.65 inch greater in 2004 than in 2003. The thirty-day outlook for March 2004 had called for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.
The week February 29-March 6 saw temperatures 4 deg. above normal, and rainfall about 150 percent of normal. On the 4th, a line of severe thunderstorms crossed the area. A tornado occurred in southern Smith County, with a 14-mile path from 5 miles west of Bullard to 2 miles northeast of Whitehouse about 5:15 p.m. The twister caused damage to trees, outbuildings, and a few roofs. There were no personal injuries.
Storm systems earlier in the week--on the 29th and morning of the 3rd--also brought rain. Weak cool air masses were present in the area on the 1st, and again on the 6th. Otherwise, the area was under Tropical Maritime air. The week's average temperature was 61.1 deg., and precipitation was 1.32 inches. The week was 11.8 deg. warmer than the previous week. Compared with the same week in 2003, the week was 9.9 deg. warmer, and 1.07 inches wetter.
The week March 7-13 saw temperatures about 1 deg. cooler than normal and no rainfall. For most of the week, surface and upper air high pressure controlled the region's weather. This brought a regime of cool nights, mild days, and very low relative humidities. A storm system crossed on the 12th and 13th, which brought drizzle on the 11th and rain on the 13th. Weak cold fronts crossed on the 7th, 9th, and 11th. The upper air wind pattern changed during the week. From an active southern branch of the jet stream, which had been in place since late January, winds aloft became northwesterly to westerly. This kept moisture locked up over the Gulf of Mexico, and prevented significant storm systems from reaching East Texas. The rain of the 13th was caused by a weakening upper air low, crossing out of Southwest Texas into Oklahoma. Drizzle on the 11th occurred because of moisture overriding a weak cold front. The week's average temperature was 57.7 deg., which was 3.4 deg. cooler than the previous week. Compared with the same week in 2003, the week was 6.3 deg. cooler, and 0.61 inch drier.
The week March 14-20 was 5 deg. warmer than normal, and rainfall was about two-thirds normal. A cold front moved through the night of the 13th. Disturbances associated with it kept showers in the area through the 16th. On the 17th, Tropical Maritime air returned under upper atmospheric high pressure. This sent temperatures to above normal levels. The week's average temperature was 65.8 deg., which was which was 8.1 deg. warmer than the previous week. Rainfall was 0.73 inch. Compared with the same week in 2003, the week was 7.8 deg. warmer, and 0.03 inch wetter.
The week March 21-27 3 deg. warmer than normal, and rainfall was about 10 percent of normal. A cold front crossed on the 21st which lowered temperatures. On the 24th, the front came back as a warm front and an upper air disturbance crossed. This brought the week's rain Tropical Maritime air built back into the region under upper air high pressure beginning the 25th. This sent the temperature to above normal levels. The week's average temperature was 65.4 deg., which was 0.4 deg. cooler than the previous week. Rainfall was 0.12 inch. Compared with the same week in 2003, the week was 6.1 deg. warmer, and 0.93 inch drier.
A cold front crossed the region on the 28th, with a reinforcing cool surge on the 30th. This lowered temperatures to below normal levels for month's end, and brought showers and thunderstorms on the afternoon and evening of the 28th. Rainfall amounts over the central and west were light; over the southeastern counties, between two and four inches fell early on the morning of the 29th.
The reporting period for temperatures and phenomenon on each day is for the twenty-four hours ending at midnight hours GMT--6 p.m. CST and 7 p.m. CDT. The reporting period for precipitation is for the twenty-four hours ending at noon GMT--6 a.m. CST and 7 a.m. CDT. All times are given using the twenty-four hour clock, and are expressed in Greenwich Mean Time.
Observations are from NWS Station 41/9207/4 in Tyler, Texas. The term "normal" refers to averages from the standard climatic period 1971-2000.
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March 2004, RECORDS AND SUMMARY: