March madness

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 10:00 pm

Well as expected the month of March was wild with a record amount of rainfall for parts of the Suncoast.

Florida ranks 4th in U.S. for number of twisters
Tornadoes are typically small compared to the monsters in the Midwest NOAA

March came in like a lamb and out like one, but it was what happened in between which made it roar. There were several tornado watches for the Suncoast. The Storm Prediction Center, out of Normal Oklahoma, is responsible for issuing these watches, and they felt it was necessary 3 times this past month for residents along SW Florida to look out for the possibility of these dangerous storms to spawn a tornado.

Although twisters can happen in any month here in Florida, it's the ones that develop in late winter early spring which can be devastating. In 1985 March 17th (St. Patrick's day) during the early morning hours, a category F3 struck Venice damaging several large buildings and killing 2 people. Winds greater than 160 mph tore through a neighborhoods destroying 55 homes, with 150 others being damaged severely. Two people lost their lives, and 45 others were injured.

This was 8 months before I started working at now ABC 7. Back then there were no smart phones to alert you to dangerous weather conditions. There was only the TV and Radio stations, that alerted you to the dangers. There were weather radios at the time, but Venice was in a void where no National Weather Service radio signal existed. A lot has changed since then.  

Venice now has an NWS radio antenna near by. Radars are much more sophisticated, and can detect rotation well before the funnel reach the ground, thus putting out earlier warnings, giving the folks more time to protect themselves. With new smart phone technology, watches and warnings are sent out to these devices with loud tones to alert people even when they are sleeping. It is likely there would have been adequate warning, to avoid many of the injuries, and even deaths, had this same scenario played out in 2014.

Thankfully no tornadoes touched down here in Manatee, Sarasota or Counties to our East this past month. That wasn't the case in Pinellas, where a small tornado moved through Indian Shores on the 6th of March ripping up some trees and doing some minor damage.

We did see a lot of rain however. The Sarasota/Bradenton airport received over 6 inches of rain (6.47") for the month. This was nearly 3" above the average. We saw a record amount of rainfall for one day, on the 17th with 3.04" recorded.  We had 3 days in the month which more than 1 inch of rain fell, 1.02" on the 6th, 3.04" on the 17th and 1.05" on the 24th.

The warmest day was on the 21st, when the mercury topped out at 87 degrees. The coldest day was 44 degrees which occurred on the 8th. The good news there were not any snow days recorded.

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