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March warmest on books locally

Apr 3, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Last month was the warmest March on record for the two largest municipalities in Fremont County and several cities nationwide.

According to the National Weather Service office in Riverton, downtown Riverton and Lander experienced record warmth last month, but weather officials say it's too soon to tell if the drier conditions will be an issue in the coming months.

"At this point, I don't think it's a cause for alarm," NWS meteorologist Trevor LaVoie said. "The snow tables are doing well, and rivers are not going to be hurting in late April, early May and into June."

As of Monday, snowpack levels in the Wind River Basin were 74 percent of normal.

Downtown Riverton's average temperature in March was 43.9 degrees, breaking the 1986 record of 43.2 degrees. Last month's average was 9 degrees above normal.

Lander's March average temperature of 44.2 degrees was 8.7 degrees above normal and surpassed the previous record of 44.1 degrees set in 1986.

According to the NWS, the coldest day last month in Lander was March 8 at 13 degrees.

The warmest day in both cities was March 31, with 78 degrees recorded in Lander and 76 degrees recorded in Riverton. It was a record high for both communities.

Statewide, Rock Springs, Worland and Casper also saw above-normal warm Marches, all ranging in the mid-40-degree range for average temperature.

According to accuweather.com, at least 26 states had cities with record-breaking warmth last month. Riverton's record was the only Wyoming city that made the list.

LaVoie noted the drier conditions should help speed up the spring thaw this year.

"We shouldn't have the late thaw like we did last year," he said. "It's going to be a pretty normal spring around here."

Precipitation

Lander received .36 inch of precipitation last month, which was 31 percent of normal. The wettest day occurred March 6, with .29 inch, the result of 4 inches of snowfall.

Snowfall for the entire month, according to the NWS, was 7.5 inches, which was 47 percent of normal.

Conditions were much drier in Riverton last month, with a reported .03 inch of precipitation -- just 5 percent of normal.

The wettest day of the month was March 7 with .02 inch.

Snowfall in Riverton last month reached 1.3 inches, with .8 inch falling March 6.

This month already has started out with wetter conditions as a result of the heavily saturated snowfall that occurred Monday.

According to the NWS, .9 inch of snow fell in Lander, resulting in .23 inch of precipitation, both above normal for the date.

In Riverton, 1.8 inches of snow fell Monday. The .20 inch of precipitation produced is a record for that day, breaking the .10-inch record set in 2000.

A storm system moving into the area later this week will likely produce little to no precipitation in lower elevations, but LaVoie said mountain peaks should see some snowfall.

Wind

March was also a windy one for both communities.

"The wind kept us warm for so long," LaVoie said.

According to the NWS, the highest wind gust recorded in Lander was 72 mph and the highest in Riverton was 64 mph. Both peaks happened March 26.

LaVoie couldn't confirm if last month's windy weather was above normal, but a review of 2011's data indicates the highest wind peak in Lander in March 2011 was 69 mph and 56 mph in Riverton.

In March 2010, the windiest day in Lander included a 48 mph gust and a 54 mph gust in Riverton.

There were more days last month in both towns that saw wind speeds reaching the 40 mph- and 50 mph-range compared to the last two years.

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