Summer in March, 2012, draws to a close

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:54 PM GMT on March 23, 2012

Share this Blog
51
+

The most incredible spring heat wave in U.S. and Canadian recorded history is finally drawing to a close today, after a ten-day stretch of unprecedented record-smashing intensity. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many spring temperature records broken, and by such a large margin. Airports in fifteen different states have set all-time records for March warmth, which is truly extraordinary considering that the records were set in the middle of the month, instead of the end of the month. The 29.2°C (85°F) measured at Western Head, Nova Scotia yesterday was the third warmest temperature ever recorded in Canada in March, according to Environment Canada and weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera (top two records: 31.1°C at Alberini Beaver Creek BC on March 29th 1926, and 29.4°C in 1921 at Wallaceburg.) Michigan's all-time record for March warmth was toppled on Wednesday, when the mercury hit 90°F at Lapeer. The previous record, 89° at Lapeer in 1910, was matched at three stations yesterday--Ypsilanti, Dearborn, and Lapeer. The duration, areal size, and intensity of the Summer in March, 2012 heat wave are simply off-scale, and the event ranks as one of North America's most extraordinary weather events in recorded history. Such a historic event is difficult to summarize, and in today's post I will offer just a few of the most notable highlights.


Figure 1. Clear skies over the Eastern U.S. caused by a blocking ridge of high pressure on March 21, 2012, are apparent in this visible satellite image. The comma-shaped cloud pattern over the Central U.S. is associated with a "cut-off" low pressure system. This low is moving over the Eastern U.S. today through Saturday, and will bring an end to "Summer in March" over the U.S. and Canada. Image credit: NOAA's Environmental Visualization Lab, and modified by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central.

Low temperatures beating previous high temperature records for the date
I've never seen a case where the low temperature for the date beat the previous record high. This happened on at least four occasions during "Summer in March, 2012":

The low temperature at Marquette, Michigan hit 52° on March 21, which was 3° warmer than the previous record high for the date.

The low at Mt. Washington, NH on March 21 (44°) beat the previous record high for the date (43°.)

The low temperature for International Falls, Minnesota on March 20 bottomed out at 60°F, tying the previous record high for the date.

The low temperature in Rochester, Minnesota on March 18 was 62°F, which beat the previous record high for the date of 60°.

Breaking all-time April records for warmth in March
Not only did many locations in Canada set records for their all-time warmest March day during "Summer in March, 2012", a number also broke their record for warmest April day:

St. John, New Brunswick hit 27.2°C (81°F) on March 21. Previous March record: 17.5°C on March 21, 1994. April record: 22.8°C.

Kejimkujik Park, Nova Scotia hit 27.9°C on March 21. Previous March record: 22.5°C on March 30, 1986. April record: 25°C on April 27, 1990.

Yesterday, I reported that Halifax, Nova Scotia hit 27.2°C (81°F) on March 22, 2012. Previous March record: 25.8° set the previous day. April record: 26.3°C, set on April 30, 2004. However, Rob Paola, a meteorologist with Environment Canada's Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wrote to tell me that Halifax did not break its April record: In fact, Halifax recorded a temperature of 29.5°C on April 28, 2009. For some reason, that stat does not show up on EC's normal/extremes climate site for Halifax, which only has data up to 2006 for extremes. More details on my blog at http://robsobsblog.blogspot.ca/

Breaking daily temperature records by more than 30°F
It is exceptionally rare for a weather station with a 50+ year period of record to break a daily temperature record by more than 10°F. During "Summer in March, 2012", beating daily records by 10° - 20°F was commonplace, and many records were smashed by over 20°. Two stations broke records by more than 30°F, which is truly surreal. Western Head, Nova Scotia hit 29.2°C (85°F), yesterday, breaking their previous record for the date (10.6°C in 1969) by 18.6°C (33°F.) Yesterday's high temperature was 24°C (44°F) above average. Pellston, Michigan in the Northern Lower Peninsula--dubbed "Michigan's Icebox", since it frequently records the coldest temperatures in the state--hit 85° on March 21. This broke the previous record for the date (53° in 2007) by 32°, and was an absurd 48°F above average.

Breaking daily temperature records nine consecutive days or more
It is extremely rare for stations with a 50+ year period of record to break a daily high temperature record for seven or more days in a row. The longest such streak of consecutive high temperature records at International Falls, Minnesota, was a 5-day period March 3 - 7, 2000. The city has tied or broken their high temperature for the date ten consecutive days, as of yesterday. This streak will likely end today, as the high is predicted to be 60 - 65, and the record high for the date is 66. Chicago, Illinois has tied or broken their daily high temperature record the past nine days in a row. This ties the nine-day streak of record highs set on August 26 - September 3, 1953. Other cites that have set daily high temperature records the past nine days in a row include Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana. Numerous cities have broken high temperature records on seven consecutive days during "Summer in March, 2012", including Gaylord, Pellston, and Traverse City in Michigan.


Figure 2. All-time high temperature records set in March 2012 for the U.S. The grey icons show locations where the March record was broken on multiple days. Image taken from wunderground's new record extremes page, using data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

The big picture: the impacts of "Summer in March, 2012"
I've always said living in Michigan would be much more bearable if we could just get rid of March. March weather here is always horrible, with brutal cold, high winds, damaging ice storms, heavy snow, interminable cloudy stretches with no sun, all interspersed with a few teasing warm spells. Well, this year, I got my wish. This March, we started with twelve days of April weather, followed by ten days of June and July weather, with nine days of May weather predicted to round out the month. This has been a huge benefit to the economy--vastly reduced heating costs, no snow removal bills, and far fewer traffic accidents due to icy roads. However, there is major downside to the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave. The growing season is now in full swing, five weeks early. A damaging freeze that will severely impact the fruit industry and other sensitive plants is very likely. Indeed, the forecast calls for lows in the upper 20s in the cherry-growing region of Michigan near Traverse City on Monday night. The exceptional March warmth has also melted all the snow in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, drying out the soils and setting the stage for a much warmer than average summer, and an increased chance of damaging drought conditions. The early loss of snowpack will also likely cause very low flow rates in the major rivers in late summer and early fall, reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation of crops. Low flows may also cause problems for navigation, limiting commercial barge traffic on Midwest rivers.

Links
Andrew Freedman of Climate Central interviewed a number of climate scientists who are experts in studying the link between extreme weather events and climate change for his post, Global Warming May Have Fueled March Heat Wave Odds.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt will be posting a more comprehensive summary of the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave this weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post. I expect I'll be hard at work this weekend, mowing my lawn for the first time ever in March!

Jeff Masters

2012 03 22 Neighbor's Magnolia Tree drops its blossoms (gatyamgal)
Because of our week of record breaking Temps here in Bettendorf, IA, the neighbor's tree bloomed and lost its blossoms 3 weeks early. What will April bring?
2012 03 22 Neighbor's Magnolia Tree drops its blossoms
Spring Landscape (thebige)
Spring Landscape
Jefferson Memorial (KEM)
Cherry blossoms in Washington DC.
Jefferson Memorial

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 752 - 702

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Glad I live on the West Coast. We don't see the abundance of strange weather as much here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
img src="">

possible event occuring or about to occur
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

What the hail?

Yeah. It's amazing that so much hail fell, that he needs to shovel it from his drive way.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Was that your hail as well. Yes that was the picture..... so cool....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ameister12:
This is incredible!

What the hail?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting PedleyCA:
Saw a post earlier with about 6" on someones back porch or patio. That must have been noisy....

Here's the image you're talking about.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Saw a post earlier with about 6" on someones back porch or patio. That must have been noisy....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PedleyCA:
Guess everyone went to sleep. 10:38 on the East coast (US)


Hey. I did not post anything when the blog died this time. It wasn't me this time. ;-) wipes sweat from brow
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This is incredible!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Guess everyone went to sleep. 10:38 on the East coast (US)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think it did.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
gee did the blog die?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting nigel20:

Cool...how are doing SPLbeater?


alright
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting Zhayes151:
The weather was so warm here in Michigan that I was able to going swimming in the lake on March 22!


Even if the water is way above average isn't it still between 45 and 50F? The thought of such cold water chills me to the bone...

Quoting nigel20:


You can see from the SST anomaly, that lake Michigan is way above average


I could only imagine a fierce Arctic cold shot over the lakes producing copious amounts of lake-effect snow... in MARCH!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A few severe thunderstorms will continue to move eastward as time progresses, but overall, the severe threat is decreasing. As we have lost the heating of the day, both instability and lapse rates are decreasing, limiting the potential for damaging wind gusts and large hail within thunderstorms. However, as upper-air forcing continues to move eastward across the area, convection will likely be ongoing throughout the night time hours. Additionally, as this large upper level low continues to approach Eastern North Carolina, freezing levels, wet bulb temperatures, and thunderstorm tops will drop. This means that despite a rather weak appearance on radar, there is a relatively high chance of hail producers, especially after sunrise tomorrow. The areas most likely to see this activity stretches from Northeastern South Carolina to all of Eastern North Carolina and Southeastern Virginia. In addition, a few cold-core funnels/tornadoes are possible near and under this upper level low tomorrow.


Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting Zhayes151:
The weather was so warm here in Michigan that I was able to going swimming in the lake on March 22!


You can see from the SST anomaly, that lake Michigan is/was way above average
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The weather was so warm here in Michigan that I was able to going swimming in the lake on March 22!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

They should mix it up a little. Why even retire the names if you're just going to change/add a letter?

They may change it...that's JMO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

They should mix it up a little. Why even retire the names if you're just going to change/add a letter?

I don't know honestly.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting SPLbeater:


u dont slow it down

Cool...how are doing SPLbeater?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nigel20:

Yeah....sorry if I slow down the blog in any way

Nah, it's not slowed down for me. Was just stating the obvious. :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting nigel20:

I think they may use Irena as you suggested

They should mix it up a little. Why even retire the names if you're just going to change/add a letter?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8047


little activity
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting nigel20:

Yeah....sorry if I slow down the blog in any way


u dont slow it down
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'm going to have to go with Irena.

Just because they went Rina for Rita and Katia for Katrina.

I think they may use Irena as you suggested
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sar2401:


Skye,
That's an interesting article, and the premise makes sense. I wonder, though, if the really big storms tend to get push to the weekends, when the particulate matter is probably near its high? I was reviewing the Skywarn activations we've had in Alabama over the past three years, and 74% occured between 2200 Friday and 1900 Sunday. I haven't calculated the rainfall by day during the same period, but there's no doubt we get our strongest storm at the end of the week rather than the middle. Since last April, in partular, I've had about half my weekends ruined by having to sit at the radio as a Skywarn net controller, communicate with the NWS, and keep an eye on the radar. We've even had church services cancelled, which never happens here. :) Of course, Alabama is not a high production state for particulate pollution, so that mat have some effect, but percentage of weekend activations has been striking.

The article clearly states that storms are enhanced mid-week when pollution is highest. Is it just people driving to and from work or do the power plants burn more coal?

From the article:

' In the Southeast, summertime conditions for large, frequent storms are already in place, a factor that overrides the rain-thwarting dispersion effect. When conditions are poised to form big storms, updrafts carry the smaller, pollution-seeded raindrops high into the atmosphere where they condense and freeze.

' "It's the freezing process that gives the storm an extra kick, causing it to grow larger and climb higher into the atmosphere," Bell said. He and his colleagues found that the radar on the TRMM satellite showed that storms climb to high altitudes more often during the middle of the week than on weekends. These invigorated midweek storms, fueled by workweek pollution, could drop measurably more rainfall. '
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You realize you can put all of these images in one post, right? :P

Yeah....sorry if I slow down the blog in any way
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:
I was under the impression from our local NWS discussion yesterday that once the sun was gone, the severe weather threat would diminished a lot but our local weather guys are saying not so..

A new severe t-storm watch is in effect for most of SE NC until 2 AM. A big cluster of storms near Columbia, SC headed our way

...and I'm still outside it!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'm going to have to go with Irena.

Just because they went Rina for Rita and Katia for Katrina.

Here's the big question: What do we use for Jose?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8047
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I'm surpised that thing is still floating...


The Japan Coast Guard identified the owner of the vessel after being contacted Friday by Canadian officials, who were able to provide the identification number on the hull of the ship. The vessel, which was used for squid fishing, was moored at Hachinohe in the Aomori prefecture when the tsunami hit, said Toshiro Yoshinaga, a Coast Guard official.

Transport Canada was still monitoring the boat Friday evening for marine pollution and interference with passing ships. [...]

The boat – the first large piece of post-tsunami debris to hit North America – was confirmed lost by Japanese officials.

Tsunami-linked fishing boat adrift off B.C.
CBC News
March 24, 2012

Scientists at the University of Hawaii say a field of about 18 million tonnes of debris is slowly being carried by ocean currents toward North America.

The field is estimated to be about 3,200 kilometres long and 1,600 kilometres wide.

Scientists have estimated some of the debris would hit B.C. shores by 2014.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I was under the impression from our local NWS discussion yesterday that once the sun was gone, the severe weather threat would diminished a lot but our local weather guys are saying not so..

A new severe t-storm watch is in effect for most of SE NC until 2 AM. A big cluster of storms near Columbia, SC headed our way
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16225
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You realize you can put all of these images in one post, right? :P
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Australia experiencing its own "Indian Ocean Mini-La Nina"? Or just increased upwelling from Cyclone (mislabelled "Typhoon) Lua?

The IOD and its impact on climate

Yeah...the SST's cooled due to the upwelling created by TC Lua
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Ianni, Ibarra would be good replacement names for Irene IMO.

I'm going to have to go with Irena.

Just because they went Rina for Rita and Katia for Katrina.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
Quoting nigel20:
March 23, 2012

You realize you can put all of these images in one post, right? :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
March 23, 2012
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sea surface temperature anomaly map for Mar 23, 2012
Northern GOM SSTs above normal. Over in the Eastern Hemisphere, we see that the IOD is being strongly positive (cold area west of Sumatra, strengthened by Cyclone Lua). Since ENSO is also going positive in the next few months, Australia will likely go from flood to drought toward the end of 2012.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
March 23, 2011
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
March 23, 2012
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
March 23, 2011
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yes, I can thank you.

Everytime you bring a religious comment on the blog, I'm going to respond with a comment like that.


Then I guess your putting yourself in a pretty bad spot!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting sunlinepr:
Anyone needs a Shrimpin boat?



Tsunami-tossed boat spotted off western Canada
Associated PressAssociated Press – 12 hrs ago

A Japanese fishing boat lost in the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami was sighted March 20, 2012 drifting 150 nautical miles off the southern coast of Haida Gwaii near British Columbia, Canada by the crew of an aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol. The vessel is considered an obstruction to navigation, and a Notice to Shipping has been issued by the Canadian Coast Guard. (AP Photo/Canadian Department of National Defence via The Canadian Press)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A large fishing vessel swept away by the tsunami that devastated Japan last year has been spotted adrift off British Columbia in western Canada.

Jeff Olsson of Victoria's Joint rescue coordination center says an airplane contracted by the government spotted the 50-foot-long (15-meter-long) vessel recently about 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Haida Gwaii, slowly drifting toward shore.

The vessel has been identified as coming from Hokkaido, Japan. Olsson says no one is believed to be aboard and there's no environmental danger.

A maritime warning has been issued because the vessel could pose a navigational hazard.

About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean in March 2011 when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

I'm surpised that thing is still floating...
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8047
We can do great things again, we need our young minds to prepare for a new adventure.

Its been way too long,...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Australia experiencing its own "Indian Ocean Mini-La Nina"? Or just increased upwelling from Cyclone (mislabelled "Typhoon) Lua?

The IOD and its impact on climate
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
706. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting sar2401:


Skye,
That's an interesting article, and the premise makes sense. I wonder, though, if the really big storms tend to get push to the weekends, when the particulate matter is probably near its high? I was reviewing the Skywarn activations we've had in Alabama over the past three years, and 74% occured between 2200 Friday and 1900 Sunday. I haven't calculated the rainfall by day during the same period, but there's no doubt we get our strongest storm at the end of the week rather than the middle. Since last April, in particular, I've had about half my weekends ruined by having to sit at the radio as a Skywarn net controller, communicate with the NWS, and keep an eye on the radar. We've even had church services cancelled, which never happens here. :) Of course, Alabama is not a high production state for particulate pollution, so that mat have some effect, but percentage of weekend activations has been striking.


Pollution rolls in from China & such, combines with that out west & rolls eastward. Much of it being from the cars. I saw a paper once about the severe outbreaks in FL associated with holidays that disrupt the usual patterns with heavy travel days. That paper I linked earlier was in 2008 & included more of the old pattern, before things shifted. That cut off low has been a slow mover.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anyone needs a Shrimpin boat?



Tsunami-tossed boat spotted off western Canada
Associated PressAssociated Press – 12 hrs ago

A Japanese fishing boat lost in the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami was sighted March 20, 2012 drifting 150 nautical miles off the southern coast of Haida Gwaii near British Columbia, Canada by the crew of an aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol. The vessel is considered an obstruction to navigation, and a Notice to Shipping has been issued by the Canadian Coast Guard. (AP Photo/Canadian Department of National Defence via The Canadian Press)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A large fishing vessel swept away by the tsunami that devastated Japan last year has been spotted adrift off British Columbia in western Canada.

Jeff Olsson of Victoria's Joint rescue coordination center says an airplane contracted by the government spotted the 50-foot-long (15-meter-long) vessel recently about 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Haida Gwaii, slowly drifting toward shore.

The vessel has been identified as coming from Hokkaido, Japan. Olsson says no one is believed to be aboard and there's no environmental danger.

A maritime warning has been issued because the vessel could pose a navigational hazard.

About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean in March 2011 when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ianni, Ibarra would be good replacement names for Irene IMO.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24576
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 752 - 702

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
37 °F
Overcast

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron