It's Official: March was Warmest Ever in United States
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has maintained records of weather and climate since the late 1800s. According to these records, the month of March, 2012 has set a new record as the warmest March ever for the contiguous United States. Across the nation, 15,000 local warm temperature records were broken. The average temperature was 51.1 degrees F, which is 8.6 degrees higher than the average 20th century March temperature. It is 0.5 degrees higher than the previous warmest March in 1910. The record high March also pushed the average temperature for the first quarter (January-March) to a new record high.
This recent NOAA release makes official what everybody already knew. Last month, the amazing warm weather was all people were talking about, using words like "crazy" and "incredible". People reveled in the beautiful weather, enjoying it to the fullest, but all the time knowing that it just did not make sense.
The eastern two-thirds of the country were subject to the high temps while the Pacific states were spared. In fact, the only state within the lower 48 that had below average temps for March was Washington. Since US climate records began over 117 years ago, only one other month has seen a greater departure from the average, and that was January 2006.
The following are some key highlights of the US climate in March and the first quarter 2012:
- Every state experienced at least one record warm daily temperature. About half the record temps occurred during the day, and half occurred at night. In 21 instances, the record high nighttime temperature exceeded the existing daytime record temperature.
- 25 States, all east of the Rockies, experienced their warmest March on record.
- Nationally averaged precipitation was 2.73 inches, slightly higher than average. Above average precipitation was prevalent in Texas and the Southern Plains, improving long-term drought conditions. The interior West, Northeast, Florida, and Colorado in particular were drier than average.
- Warmer conditions in the eastern US created favorable conditions for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Overall, this severe weather caused 40 fatalities and over $1 Billion in damages and losses.
- An extremely rare tornado hit the Hawaiian island of Oahu, causing heavy damage. It also produced a hailstone that was 4.25 inches in diameter, a record for the island.
- The record high first quarter (Jan-Mar) for the contiguous US was an average temperature of 42 degrees, 6 degrees higher than the long-term average.
- Alaska had its tenth coolest March on record and its 9th coolest first quarter.
For more information: NOAA National Climate Data Center
Image credit: National Climate Data Center/NESDIS/NOAA