March Forecast – Based on Lezak’s Recurring Cycle

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Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  Back in December of 2009 I posted the first long range weather forecast based on the LRC right here in the Weather Watch 12 blog.  Since that time many have learned about the LRC, and many are just beginning to follow this remarkable weather pattern theory that I was first introduced to in 2006. 

The ‘LRC’ which stands for Lezak’s Recurring Cycle is a weather pattern theory based on the following:

  • A unique weather pattern sets up every year between October 1st and November 10th
  • The weather pattern cycles, repeats, and continues through winter, spring and into summer. Identifying the cycle length helps tremendously when making long range weather predictions.
  • Long term long-wave troughs and ridges become established and also repeat at regular times within the cycle. These dominant repeating features are a clue to where storm systems will reach peak strength, and where they will be their weakest.
  • The LRC is a winter-long pattern! There is a pattern! It isn’t just one long-wave trough, storm system, or ridge. It is a sequence of troughs and ridges that are cycling across the Northern Hemisphere.

To put this in very simple terms, the weather pattern that occurs in October and November repeats thru the Winter, Spring, and into the Summer. The cycle length will vary each year. I’ve seen cycles of 42-46 days, 60-62 days, etc.

The easiest way to view the LRC is to look at maps in the middle of the atmosphere, the 500mb level. The 500mb level is really a good spot to analyze the trough(lows) and ridge(highs) positions to help determine the long term longwave ridges and troughs. At the 500mb level you also don’t have to factor in friction or surface moisture. The theory can be translated down to the surface(where we live), which we do in this long range forecast.

As I have mentioned many times, this year’s cycle duration is about 46-52 days.  Overall most of the weather events have repeated about 47-51 days apart.  After analyzing the pattern and surface results from October through February, I was able to get a very good idea of what should occur this March.

Here in Milwaukee the averages begin to take on a more Spring-like feel as the month progresses.  And the average montly snow total also takes a noticable dip from February.

  • Average High March 1st  37
  • Average High March 31st  48
  • Average March Snowfall  7.4″ 


Here is the March 2011 long range forecast!

March 1-7

The first week will see plenty of quick ups and downs in temperatures.  The coldest day of the first week should be Wednesday, March 2.  By late in the week, around March 5 the part of the pattern will return that produced this upper low over the north-central U.S. back on November 25-26, or 2 cycles ago.  Below is the archived 500mb map from November 26.

500mb November 26, 2010 

As this part of the pattern returns, I expect a round of precipitation, and the possibility of accumulating snow. 

March 8-14

Early in this period a storm system is possible around March 8-10.  Rain, a mix, or snow is possible.  The storm should be followed by a strong push of cold air, possibly the coldest temperatures that will occur during all of March!   This part of the pattern has repeated 3 times so far in this year’s LRC.  And I expect it to repeat again!  Here is how the 500mb flow looked each time through this part of the pattern.

As the new pattern was just beginning to reveal itself, this feature first occurred on October 14, 2010.

500mb October 14, 2010

Then, 48 days later the pattern repeated on December 1, 2010.  The upper low fell into the long term longwave trough once again.

500mb December 1, 2010

51 days later, during the 3rd cycle of this year’s LRC, this same feature paid a visit in January.  This produced the coldest surface temperatures of the month in Milwaukee!

500mb January 21, 2010

This period could end with another system moving by around the March 13-14 timeframe with another chance of precipitation.  Week two looks to be very active in southeast Wisconsin.

March 15-21

This week may get lost in the shuffle because all eyes will be on week 4 of March.  But let’s touch on this period.  Before the ‘signature’ storm arrived in both December and early February it was preceded by a couple of ‘clipper’ systems.  With a seasonal shift of the jet stream starting to lift back to the north, I expect the bulk of the precipitation with these events to be rain, and fairly light.  Can’t rule out snow, but I think temperatures will moderate some during this period, and with average highs in the 40s by then, snow is tougher to come by with ‘clippers’.

This period will end with the ‘signature’ storm on the doorstep.

March 22-28

Week 4 will bring the return of the ‘signature’ storm to the Midwest.  This feature has shattered weather records in some form each time through the cycle.  Here’s a look:

  • October 26, 2010    Storm produced a tornado in Racine county & the lowest central pressure ever recorded in Wisconsin!
  • December 11-12, 2010  Heavy rain and snow fall in southeast Wisconsin.  Nearly a foot of snow in parts of Washington County.  Blizzard conditions in parts of the Midwest, another very windy storm!
  • February 1-2, 2011  Possibly the worst blizzard to hit southeast Wisconsin since 1947!  Nearly 2 feet of snow in spots, winds gust to 60mph at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport

Here is the surface map from the morning of February 2, 2011.  An amazing storm!

Surface Map February 2, 2011

While predicting another record smashing storm is tough.  The ‘signature’ storm should return around March 22-24 and I am expecting a classic Spring storm with a severe weather outbreak in the warm sector, and a major winter storm in the cold sector. 

Each time through the cycle over a half inch of liquid precipitation has been measured.  This is one of the wettest storms in this year’s pattern.

The big question is what will southeast Wisconsin see?  I would lean to a rain to snow, with gusty winds with this storm.  Behind the storm a push of cold air will settle in to the region. 

March 29-31

After the ‘signature’ storm passes one more ‘clipper’ type system will move by, and then a push of cold air to close the month.  Temperatures the last day or so of March should be below average, and the cooler weather should last into early April. 


For the entire month of March here is what I am expecting.

Snowfall: Above Average

Precipitation: Near Average

Temperatures: Below Average


Those are my thoughts on March based on the LRC.  While many are hoping for an early Spring, I just don’t see it this year for Wisconsin.  However, I do think the first good chance at highs in the 70s may be around April 7-11. 

If you have questions please post them to the comments section of the blog.  Please feel free to share this blog entry with anyone you know!

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


24 Responses

  1. Don’t take this the wrong way but you suck! 🙂

  2. Sounds about right. I expect mostly highs in the 30s and 40s this March with very few 20s and 50+. Not counting the signature storm potential, I could see close to a foot of snow this month.

    • I’d rather say warm and dry, but I just don’t see it this March.


  3. I’m excited for the Sig!

    • Dan,

      Pretty amazing that we can look forward to a ‘storm’ when not one model can forecast out that far!


  4. Sig. LOL

  5. I love weather! 😀 I think I’d go into it if it weren’t for all the calc classes!

  6. Sunday, February 27, 2011 11:34 pm

    Hi Jeremy, (and also Dan K)

    Took my chances and went to my event this evening. Got home (safe & sound) around 11:10 pm. 20 minute or so drive through ‘mixed’ which thankfully seems to have been mostly rain. Did have some ice on my truck though. Somewhere between 11:15 and now, precip has mostly changed over to snow. Might still be some rain and sleet mixed in, but I’m not about to go outside to check! Just took a quick look out the window and it appears now to be snow with large flakes. I plan to post an update sometime tomorrow morning, but it might be late morning. We’ll see.

    Tony (Pl. Prairie)

    • My man, Tony! Thanks for keepin us up to date…. so I take it I didn’t steer you too wrong? Glad to hear you got back alright…Hopefully everyone drove back safely this evening! Have a good one 😀

      Dan K

    • You did just fine Dan! Hope you take the amount of consideration I gave to your opinion in reaching my decision of whether to go or not a sincere compliment.


  7. A very depressing March outlook.

  8. I like it! Of course, march is when I start getting sick of the snow…

    • Robert,

      I reached that point after the blizzard to start Feb. Hopefully once March ends we can get some true Spring weather in the area.


  9. I like snow in December because of the “novelty” factor, but after about the 2nd week of January I am done. It seems like the last few years winter hasn’t kicked in until December, November has been warmer then I remember as a kid.

  10. Monday, February 28, 2011 9:22 am

    Morning WW 12 blog,

    Woke up to considerably less snow cover than I expected. Visually estimating it 1/4 inch or less. Only posting this because I mentioned last night that I would probably be doing so.

    Tony (Pl. Prairie)

    • Thanks for checking in Tony! Jeremy

  11. Hi, Jeremy!

    The LRC paints March as being much more like a lion than a lamb, eh? Just how loud the roar is waits to be seen. I noted your expectations in general and will now join the forces w/ the rest of the weather gurus and geeks on the blog to see how it all matches up. Looks like there will be lots to follow! {By the way, you’re the guru — I’m the geek!}

    You referred to above average snow but near average precip. Is the difference that the precip is the water equivalent of the snow, or something else?

    Also, just out of curiosity, what do you think caused the forecast for the Sun night storm to be so “whacked out” in the week prior to it slipping by us — we went from looking for mega snow — to mega rain – then nothing. Or is it just that I’ve been affected with “modelitis”?


    • Don,

      The models were all over the place with what occurred last night. Sometimes that just happens, but there was a lot of moisture ‘eaten up’ by the intense thunderstorms to the south. So that moisture was never able to flow very far north. But overall once we got about 24 away the models didn’t do too bad.

      With the snow…keep in mind it may only take 0.70″-0.80″ liquid to get us over the average amount of snow for March. But that still leaves around 1.50″ of liquid to account for. Just think of it this way.

      I’ll take being a guru:)


  12. The good chance at highs in the 70’s from April 7 to 11 will likely be well away from Lake Michigan (sigh).

    • Let’s hope for a decent southwest wind!


  13. In my part of the world (in Canada, just north of eastern Washington State) I’ve also noticed a 50-ish day cycle. Around the 12th of November we had our first taste of cold weather followed by a couple days of precipitation and then an extremely cold week near the end of the month.

    Then almost 50 days later, right at the end of December, we had our second cold snap (although no nearly as cold as the one in Nov). The second wave of this cold snap (after a couple days of flurries) was not as cold as the first one.

    And now we fast-forward to mid-February (close to a 100 days from the start of the November cold spell), and low and behold, another pattern similar to the one in November complete with some record setting cold just a few days ago.

    I see they are calling for a cold, wet spring around here even though winter was neither… It will be interesting to see what we get.

    • Glacier,

      Thanks for checking in. The LRC can be used anywhere in the northern hemisphere from what we’ve seen. Your example is a great one…the pattern continues to repeat! Keep us posted on what you experience and anything else you notice with the LRC.


  14. Fascinating – found this link from Paul Douglas’ blog in Minneapolis. Not liking the pattern, but fascinating. We are having the most miserable winter imaginable here in the Twin Cities and people are going crazy at this point – to be facing another month of it is almost unbearable, but not a whole heck of a lot we can do. Sure wish I’d scheduled a week on Captiva Island this March.

    • Matt,

      We are always talking about the pattern in the blog so feel free to stop back anytime. By the way…get ready for above average snow in Minneapolis this month.


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