March 2012: warmest in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on April 10, 2012

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Not only was March 2012 the warmest March in the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895, it was also the second most extreme month for warmth in U.S. history, said NOAA yesterday, in their monthly "State of the Climate" report. The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March, and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. weather records began in 1895, only one month--January 2006--had a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. A remarkable 25 states east of the Rockies had their warmest March on record, and an additional 15 states had a top-ten warmest March. Only four states were cooler than average, with Alaska being the coldest (tenth coldest March on record.)


Figure 1. Temperature rankings for March 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Twenty five states set records for warmest March in the 118-year records (red colors.) Image credit: NOAA.

March 2012: most daily records broken of any month since July 1936
A wunderground analysis of weather records from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center temperature record database reveals that more daily high temperature records were broken in March in 2012 than for any month except July 1936, going back at least 100 years. Fully 11.3% of all daily high temperature records for the month of March in the U.S. are now held by the year 2012, for the 550 stations in NOAA's National Climatic Data Center database that have weather records extending back at least 100 years. The only month in U.S. history holding a higher percentage of daily temperatures records is July 1936. That month holds 14.4% of all the U.S. high temperature records for the month of July. That month occurred in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history.



Summer in March 2012: records not merely smashed, but obliterated
Among the 15,000 daily records for warmth set in March 2012 were 21 truly astonishing ones: cases where the low temperature for the day beat the previous high temperature for the day. It is quite 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 NOAA lists 44 cases where a daily record was broken by more than 22°F. Extraordinarily, four stations broke a record for the date by 30°F or more. Canada holds the most surreal record of this nature during the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave: Western Head, Nova Scotia hit 29.2°C (85°F) on March 22, breaking their previous record for the date (10.6°C in 1969) by 18.6°C (33.5°F.) Canada also had several stations break their all-time warmest April temperature records in March.



Last 3 months and 12 months were the warmest on record
The previous 12-month period (April 2011 -March 2012), which includes the second hottest summer (June-August) and fourth warmest winter (December-February), was the warmest such period for the contiguous United States. The year-to-date period (January - March) was also the warmest on record. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index, an index that tracks the highest 10 percent and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 39 percent, nearly twice the long-term average and the highest value on record for the January - March period. The predominant factor was the large area experiencing extremes in warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures.

Analyzing the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave
Dr. Martin Hoerling of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder has posted a thorough analysis of the heat wave, which he calls, "Meteorological March Madness 2012". He explains that the event was probably a natural phenomenon, one that was predicted more than a month in advance by NOAA's long-range CFS model. A similar, though not as intense heat wave occurred in March 1910. However, he notes that the approximate 0.5 - 1°C warming in the Ohio Valley/Midwest U.S. in recent decades--due to human-caused emission of heat trapping gases like carbon dioxide--has significantly increased the odds of major heat waves occurring. He speculates that the odds of a 1-in-40 year heat wave in the Midwest may have increased by about 50% due to human-caused global warming, but that we really don't know how much global warming may have increased the odds of the March 2012 heat wave, saying "This issue of estimating reliable statistics of extreme, rare events continues to be a matter of active research." He estimates that human-caused global warming likely increased the intensity of the March 12 - 23, 2012 heat wave by about 5 - 10%, and concludes by saying, "The probability of heatwaves is growing as [human-caused] warming continues to progress. But there is always the randomness."

Jeff Masters

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Quoting nigel20:

Georges dealt quite a blow to Puerto Rico
I wll never forget that monster :( And 1 month with no power!
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Sorry ya'll. Politics is "hotting up" here in the Bahamas this week, with elections slated for some time in the next 4 - 6 weeks. So my wx fervor has been ... sidetracked a bit by listening to a radio call-in voter poll...

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Quoting Gearsts:
Georges

Georges dealt quite a blow to Puerto Rico
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Quoting washingtonian115:
What is that storm in your avatar?
Georges
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Quoting bappit:
How could they have been off by over 100%? The damage numbers seem suspect.


Since no one answered you.. They left it at "greater than 10 billion". They also left Lee at "greater than 1 billion".
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Quoting Gearsts:
Studies outlined the impacts of ENSO on landfalling hurricanes in the United States. Richards and O’Brien (1996) found that the probability of two or more hurricanes making landfall in the United States was only 21% during an El Niño event but 44% during the neutral phase. The work by Bove et al. (1998) revisited Richards and O’Brien using a longer time period and corrected U.S. hurricane data. Bove et al. (1998) found that the probability of two or more hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coast was 28% during El Niño and 48% during the neutral phase. The present study extends the analysis of Bove et al. (1998) to the Caribbean. IS this true?
What is that storm in your avatar?
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the new GFS ups the shear across Kansas and Nebraska, and is leaning a little more towards an open trough in the E US.

Not nearly as pronounced as the ECMWF though
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
Studies outlined the impacts of ENSO on landfalling hurricanes in the United States. Richards and O’Brien (1996) found that the probability of two or more hurricanes making landfall in the United States was only 21% during an El Niño event but 44% during the neutral phase. The work by Bove et al. (1998) revisited Richards and O’Brien using a longer time period and corrected U.S. hurricane data. Bove et al. (1998) found that the probability of two or more hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coast was 28% during El Niño and 48% during the neutral phase. The present study extends the analysis of Bove et al. (1998) to the Caribbean. IS this true?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


18.7 billion?

That makes Irene the 5th most destructive hurricane of all time, beating Hurricane Charley by ~100,000 million. I'd be very shocked, if that's final, that Irene wouldn't be retired. That just doesn't make sense to me the hype it caused.
So now we r retiring Irene as the most-hyped storm of any season???

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Quoting ncstorm:
I was just wondering why did we have all the strong cold fronts that werent likely during the summer from Canada and steered most storms away from the US but yet we hardly had a winter? Maybe those cold fronts were our so called winter last year and now we are seeing an early spring/summer. I have to think that we will be seeing an early hurricane season before El Nino is even supposed to get here
I agree...Oh come on people now everyone wants to leave the blog?
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Quoting ncstorm:
I was just wondering why did we have all the strong cold fronts that werent likely during the summer from Canada and steered most storms away from the US but yet we hardly had a winter? Maybe those cold fronts were our so called winter last year and now we are seeing an early spring/summer. I have to think that we will be seeing an early hurricane season before El Nino is even supposed to get here
Hmmmmm...
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I agree that early and homegrowns will dominate this season instead of long trackers and late season developments. As always,time will tell what will the season be like and in my case,if the NE Caribbean will be affected by systems.
24% chance for a tropical storm to pass 50miles or closer to PR and 4% chance for a hurricane.
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I was just wondering why did we have all the strong cold fronts that werent likely during the summer from Canada and steered most storms away from the US but yet we hardly had a winter? Maybe those cold fronts were our so called winter last year and now we are seeing an early spring/summer. I have to think that we will be seeing an early hurricane season before El Nino is even supposed to get here
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14446
**Nice try**

Thanks aspectre. I knew something was fishy, but didn't know the face in the photo.
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By June 2009 it was already apparent that an El nino was forming or had formed.This year is still uncertain.I hope El nino forms late in the season.so I can track both my hurricanes and have snow for the winter.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


why?


Just based on when I think the storm will move in
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


All good questions, I wonder if we will ever know for sure? I wonder how fast those effects could have occurred.

2 things happened which changed it all:-
The atom got split and the internal combustion engine got fired up!
This enabled unlimited power and destruction on the first hand and second unlimited transportation and pollution on the other.
We fly through the air, jam our streets with traffic, pollute out skies and probably much worse in the long run, though a silent accomplice, we emit and endure radiation.
There's been a bit of talk about "cold fusion."
Although many will argue that there are more problems, most of the other "Developments," are mere add ons!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2065
Quoting weatherh98:


I'm thinking late Thursday we will get it


why?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
18z gfs coming in, not sure about your thursday outbreak though.
Again i disagree with TA13..... :)


I'm thinking late Thursday we will get it
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I don't really see 2009 as a good analogue at all. 2002 is a much better choice in my opinion. ;-)

For the sake of a hit we see it that way
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I don't really see 2009 as a good analogue at all. 2002 is a much better choice in my opinion. ;-)

Is it that or do you just not want 2009 as an analogue :)
I think you're right though... We will be more active this year than 2009
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7612
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
18z gfs coming in, not sure about your thursday outbreak though.
Again i disagree with TA13..... :)

I think Saturday is more the day we're watching
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7612

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I don't really see 2009 as a good analogue at all. 2002 is a much better choice in my opinion. ;-)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31452
183 Skeptic33: Former NASA scientists, astronauts admonish agency on climate change position

Nice try. But the photo is of the head of NASA's GoddardInstitute for SpaceStudies, Dr.JamesHansen* -- not of an "admonish"er as you seem to want to imply -- being arrested in a civil disobedience protest against the "same ol', same ol' " do-nothingness dominating the US political process.

And 7 out of 532 astronauts is 1.3% of the total. I strongly suspect the 7 came out of the military pilot and military/intelligence/defense-contractor mission-specialist pool. ie Not particularly known for their training in the meteorological sciences, if any.

Similarly, 49 out of 18,000 employees (not including contract workers or those employed by contractors) is 0.27% of the total for a given year...which hasta be divided by the number of years that NASA has been in business.
Can't get more specific cuz:
1) I can't find the total number of man-years of those employed by NASA over the years, and don't know the total man-years of the 49 admonishers.
2) AGW denialists have had a rather lax definition of 'scientist' to include anyone who has an associate or bachelor degree in any of the fields included within math, science, or engineering; including those who went through pre-medicine, pre-veterinary, or pre-dentistry.
3) I don't know the proportion of NASA's employees who would qualify as a "scientist" under the denialists' definition. I suspect nearly all of the technicians would qualify.
Which leaves only the administrators, clerks, and janitorial crew who might have a majority without a science/etc degree...
...but considering that I personally knew a Brit with a doctorate (in either math or physics, with a masters in the other field...can't remember exactly which way) who worked in NASA's supply accounting department, there are probably a lot of science/etc degrees amongst them also.

* One of the originators of AnthropogenicGlobalWarming theory and long-time leading proponent that AGW would become the cause behind the recent(ly obvious)ClimateChange. Also one of the strongest advocates of "AGW is real. ClimateChange is already happening. It's time to act!"
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18z gfs coming in, not sure about your thursday outbreak though.
Again i disagree with TA13..... :)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Thank you!

The MDR has been exhibiting below average SST's this year and that constitutes for stability, dry air, SAL, all that jazz, so I could see the main activity focusing mainly west of 40˚W. The reason I like 2009 as an analog is not necessarily the amount of cyclones that developed, but rather the predominant steering pattern. I could definitely see the United States coast having a nasty year, but from cyclones that develop closer to home rather than near the Cape Verde islands.

Nothing much! How have you been doing?

I am good...thanks for asking...it's nice to have you back on the blog
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I've wondered about that. The period between 1913 and 1933 saw some major developments in industrialization of industry and some notable changes in land use. It's also the period when automobiles became more or less ubiquitous. How much impact did the explosion of the nuclear devices over the next 10 years have???


All good questions, I wonder if we will ever know for sure? I wonder how fast those effects could have occurred.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I agree that early and homegrowns will dominate this season instead of long trackers and late season developments. As always,time will tell what will the season be like and in my case,if the NE Caribbean will be affected by systems.

I agree with you on that tropics
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


I've given up on predicting potential US impacts since 2009s season. I just focus on where I think the storms will be and when they could form.
Smart move :). Being too specific usually equates to a busted forecast.

Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Who let you back in? ;)
Sneaked in through the back door. ;)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Same story every year huh? Let's see how steering patterns evolve.

I've been extremely busy since last year and so the time that I have had to examine the tropics has been cut exponentially. However, I have been able to dedicate some time into it lately and have figured out that both 1957 and 2009 are great analogs for the 2012 season at this point in the game. Focusing on the United States, both the Gulf coast and northeast should keep a wary eye on the tropics this year.


Who let you back in? ;)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


MH09! Welcome back!

I agree, but I don't think it will be as inactive as 2009. The SST setup just doesn't match, the warmth in the Western Atlantic is way more than in 2009. The MDR though is where we won't be seeing as many storms, and why the names will be below average this year.
Thank you!

The MDR has been exhibiting below average SST's this year and that constitutes for stability, dry air, SAL, all that jazz, so I could see the main activity focusing mainly west of 40˚W. The reason I like 2009 as an analog is not necessarily the amount of cyclones that developed, but rather the predominant steering pattern. I could definitely see the United States coast having a nasty year, but from cyclones that develop closer to home rather than near the Cape Verde islands.

Quoting nigel20:

whats up Miamihurricanes09?
Nothing much! How have you been doing?
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I still think we'll get close to 14 NS this season, mainly because I think we may be a little more active early on. I do expect the El Nino to be fully formed by Nov, so late season storms may not be as likely.


I agree that early and homegrowns will dominate this season instead of long trackers and late season developments. As always,time will tell what will the season be like and in my case,if the NE Caribbean will be affected by systems.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Same story every year huh? Let's see how steering patterns evolve.

I've been extremely busy since last year and so the time that I have had to examine the tropics has been cut exponentially. However, I have been able to dedicate some time into it lately and have figured out that both 1957 and 2009 are great analogs for the 2012 season at this point in the game. Focusing on the United States, both the Gulf coast and northeast should keep a wary eye this year.


I've given up on predicting potential US impacts since 2009s season. I just focus on where I think the storms will be and when they could form.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23568
How could they have been off by over 100%? The damage numbers seem suspect.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5951
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Everybody is getting antsy for hurricane season. Looks to be less active overall, but with a greater risk of USA landfalls.
Same story every year huh? Let's see how steering patterns evolve.

I've been extremely busy since last year and so the time that I have had to examine the tropics has been cut exponentially. However, I have been able to dedicate some time into it lately and have figured out that both 1957 and 2009 are great analogs for the 2012 season at this point in the game. Focusing on the United States, both the Gulf coast and northeast should keep a wary eye on the tropics this year.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Heyyy! I see you guys are still going strong on Dr. Masters' blog. :P
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
whats up Miamihurricanes09?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Speaking of Hurricane Irene, its Tropical Cyclone Report was just revised with new damage totals.

Damages in the USA are up roughly $8 billion, with an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

The damage total across the Caribbean/Bahamas remains at $3.1 billion.

This brings the final total to $18.7 billion.


18.7 billion?

That makes Irene the 5th most destructive hurricane of all time, beating Hurricane Charley by ~100,000 million. I'd be very shock, if that's final, that Irene wouldn't be retired. That just doesn't make sense to me the hype it caused.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23568
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Speaking of Hurricane Irene, its Tropical Cyclone Report was just revised with new damage totals.

Damages in the USA are up roughly $8 billion, with an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

The damage total across the Caribbean/Bahamas remains at $3.1 billion.

This brings the final total to $18.7 billion.


Retire it!!!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looks like an average, or slightly below average season is in store for 2012. Doubtful that we'll exceed more than 11-12 named cyclones.


MH09! Welcome back!

I agree, but I don't think it will be as inactive as 2009. The SST setup just doesn't match, the warmth in the Western Atlantic is way more than in 2009. The MDR though is where we won't be seeing as many storms, and why the names will be below average this year.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23568
Quoting:-257. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:=
"whats scary is the next time one comes a threatening the area many people may not heed the warnings and use the past event as a reference for the current expected event,"

You can just hear them all saying," last time we closed the subways, evacuated people,declared a possible emergency situation, and all that happened is we got a bit of a heavy shower,"
You can imagine how eager the citizens will be to go through all that trauma again?
That's why you get mega deaths, complacency?
Probably the worst thing that could have happened to the New York area, was that the hurricane failed to materialise. Next time might be a different story!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2065
Speaking of Hurricane Irene, its Tropical Cyclone Report was just revised with new damage totals.

Damages in the USA are up roughly $8 billion, with an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

The damage total across the Caribbean/Bahamas remains at $3.1 billion.

This brings the final total to $18.7 billion.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31452
I still think we'll get close to 14 NS this season, mainly because I think we may be a little more active early on. I do expect the El Nino to be fully formed by Nov, so late season storms may not be as likely.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Heyyy! I see you guys are still going strong on Dr. Masters' blog. :P

Everybody is getting antsy for hurricane season. Looks to be less active overall, but with a greater risk of USA landfalls.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31452
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Hey MH09!
Heyyy! I see you guys are still going strong on Dr. Masters' blog. :P
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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