You think it's been a chilly March? Check out how cold it was 150 years ago today

A snippet of the weather log taken at Fort Steilacoom in March, 1867 (National Weather Service via Mark Albright)

Sure, until lately we've been dodging snowflakes in the lowland, wondering if 55 degrees would ever materialize.

But imagine a March so cold, it would rival our chilliest Januarys?

Research meteorologist Mark Albright says this is the 150 year anniversary of a bitterly cold winter/early spring around the Puget Sound region.

He posted the meteorological record from Fort Steilacoom (near what is now Tacoma) in 1867 and, wow, there were some chilly days!

Get this: 22 of the 31 days had morning readings below freezing. (We don't know if it was actually the "low" temperature of the day, because in those days, they only made three daily observations: at 7 a.m., 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. and likely missed even colder temperatures around 4-5 a.m.) March 12 had an afternoon reading of 34 and a morning reading of 19. The next day? A morning reading of... 12 degrees! And as I mentioned, it could have been even colder a few hours before. Five days had snow -- mostly at the start of the month.

The overall average temperature was just 36.3 degrees. Granted, back in those days there were no issues with heat from urbanization, but a cold snap of that magnitude these days would obliterate current records. Tacoma has online records going back to 1982 and its coldest March is 43.9 degrees. The 36.3 reading would put it on par with the 10th coldest January on record in Seattle.

But at least it wasn't too gloomy. The observer recorded that a whopping 20 days were considered "fair" and just 10 days cloudy with 6 days of measurable precipitation.

Albright said the cold snap spread east. On the day Steilacoom hit 12, there was a -9 reading at Fort Walla Walla and -20 at Fort Colville. Over in Montana, the temperature dropped to -28 on March.

Talk about winter not going down without a fight!

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