The Snows of March on Long Island

While January and February are the heavy-hitter months for snow, March can also pack a punch, with this year delivering four nor’easters in three weeks (though the first was more of a sleety, rainy event), and a fourth on the way.

Here’s a quick look at March snowfall at Long Island MacArthur Airport, where records go back to September of 1963.

Top snowfall from a storm – 18.4 inches

March 21-22, 2018

Tagged by some as #foureaster, this was the fourth in a steady stream of nor’easters that had Long Islanders wondering if they would ever be able to store their shovels.

With 12 to 18 inches in the forecast, and light to moderate snow already falling, area residents were on alert, waiting and waiting all day Wednesday, March 21, for the heavy bands to come along.

And, did they ever come! One produced snowfall rates of 4 to 5 inches an hour, leaving MacArthur Airport digging out from 18.4 inches when all was said and done. Patchogue saw 20.1 inches; Terryville, 19.7; Plainview, 16.

Runner-up – 17 inches

March 21-22, 1967

This storm, Newsday reported, was unexpected and “left Long Island a tangled mess of deep drifts, stalled cars, closed schools in some places and cold, complaining residents.”

Long Islanders – and forecasters – were taken by surprise, as the expectation was for mostly rain.

In Selden, one driver skidded into a snowbank, followed shortly by another, then by a police squad car and then a highway truck, before “a heavy sand truck and two tow trucks arrived and pulled everyone free,” Newsday said.

It showed, too, that some people, given their professions, are better equipped to bounce back than others. One man harnessed his two elephants and got them to pull his car free. That was the elephant trainer with a circus that was opening the next day at the Long Island Arena in Commack.

Third place – 13.5 inches

March 1-2, 2009

“Start with a foot or more of snow,” Newsday reported. “Then throw in bitter cold and gusting winds. And you have a recipe for a highway chief’s nightmare.”

This system came on the heels of “weeks of balmy weather,” Newsday said in a story titled, “Beware the snow of March.”

One Melville woman stocking up on food at Waldbaum’s said, “It’s crazy. I come back from Florida and return home to 14 inches.”

And while March isn’t usually such a snowy time . . .

How March stacks up in average monthly snowfall: chart created with amCharts | amCharts

. . . mid-March is no stranger to a significant storm.

And some Marches have packed a real punch.

Source: Northeast Regional Climate Center