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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Today:

Tornado in California
4 foot haildrifts in OK
8.6 & 8.2 quakes Indonesia
5.8 Oregon Coast
6.5 Mexico


RAISE THE DOOMCON LEVEL!!!!!
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Radar indicated Tornado at Hartley, north-WEST of Amarillo.

Looks like another hail storm south east of Amarillo.


More storms also training back over the areas north and east that were hit by the hail storms earlier.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Skyepony:


The landfill fires are numerous today.. Janesville one maybe out. That one was assumed poisonous.


Pretty sure it's out sadly enough. Folks in Rock county love good landfill fire. For awhile they were trying to report it as a grass fire despite the smell of burning plastic and a giant black billowing cloud over the area.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


that doesnt work, because if the area is 10 times larger, you do not have 150%.

It is a lot easier to work with probabilities of not happening in situations like this, so you could say that the probability that the tornado does not occur in any of the four sections that u could divide forbes' are into is .85^4= .522, or a .47 that it will.
so this would be a TorCon of 5.
Forbes however, seems to have higher numbers, so a 6 or more is what he uses.


The official conversions would be as follows:

2% SPC prob = TORCON of 1 (or about 8% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
5% SPC prob = TORCON of 2 (or about 19% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
15% SPC prob = TORCON of 5 (or about 48% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
30% SPC prob = TORCON of 8 (or about 76% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
45% SPC prob = TORCON of 9 (or about 91% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
60% SPC prob = TORCON of 10 (or about 97% chance of a tornado within 50 miles)
I'm glad you are into explaining this. Would be interesting to be able to compare SPC and Forbes' torcon index on an even plane. Sorry, though, I'm not getting it. And I'm not bad with math. Part I don't understand is... SPC's probabilities are based on 'within 25 miles of a point.' Does your conversion to torcon allow for this? Maybe I missed something and need to read back some.
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Quoting caneswatch:


I've heard a TS or greater has made landfall here in Florida in all months except either December or January. Not saying such will happen, but it would be pretty cool to witness.
You heard wrong. March and April haven't seen any landfalls.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

It'd be even more impressive if it ended up making landfall. That I would like to see.


I've heard a TS or greater has made landfall here in Florida in all months except either December or January. Not saying such will happen, but it would be pretty cool to witness.
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Quoting caneswatch:


It's been 9 years since a TS formed in April. It would be another sight to see.
It'd be even more impressive if it ended up making landfall. That I would like to see.
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1157. Patrap
Tomorrow, April 12th is the 31st year since the first Space Shuttle Launch, STS-1 Columbia with Young and Crippen aboard.




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Quoting KoritheMan:

More like 99.9%.


It's been 9 years since a TS formed in April. It would be another great sight to see.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


hah maybe I'm being conservative...

Shh. Let's not completely curb the wishcasters' hopes.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

More like 99.9%.


hah maybe I'm being conservative...

Meanwhile, more hail...

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
1153. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting KoritheMan:

More like 99.9%.
stranger things have happen

maybe we go from super spring to super strange
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Look at the end of the 18Z GFS run in the Caribbean... That means with 99.5 percent certainty that the solution will not verify.

More like 99.9%.
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1150. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
04/13/12 000 z run 48 hr

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Look at the end of the 18Z GFS run in the Caribbean... That means with 99.5 percent certainty that the solution will not verify.

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Wow.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
1147. Patrap
Apollo 13 Launched this date in 1970 at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

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1146. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
1099. 1911maker 12:40 AM GMT on April 12, 2012 +1
Quoting Patrap:
Three Friday the 13ths, 13 weeks apart, a rarity




Thanks, and from the link

It's hard not to feel something about Friday the 13th, Fernsler says. "I find that 95% of people in the world are superstitious about something, and the other 5% are liars," he said.
Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: February 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 208


its the 2012 luck of the draw


I, for one, am not superstitious one bit. I'm much too analytical and logical to be superstitious. Personally, I find it absolutely absurd that old apartments around here don't have a 13th floor. It's a number WE created!

I find that 95% of people in the world are superstitious about something, and the other 5% are liars

Then where do I figure? I'm starting to wonder if I even exist... ;) Maybe I'm in a parallel universe.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
1144. LargoFl
Quoting WxGeekVA:
What the HAIL? My god has everyone seen the FEET of hail in Texas? OMG it's INSANE!!!
in my whole life I have never seen anything like that
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36651
1143. Patrap
CME

LASCO Image


www.solarham.com





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Quoting oldnewmex:
I can imagine two to four feet of hail (washed in with the accompanying rain) accumulating in in ditches/depressions. I have seen marble-sized hail, deposited "one marble deep" overall, about a foot deep in drainages.
(edit)
We shoveled it into a garbage can to ice down a keg.



I don't think they were measuring the accumulation in a ditch or low place.

It's apparent that plows were needed to clear the hail off of the road on US287.

Plows.

Now figure, before the storm starts, you have hot, 110f to 120f asphault (or concrete) in the baking Sunlight, so the first several inches of hail on the road itself probably melted on contact and ran off...

...yet they still needed plows to clear the road from the ice that accumulated in the road...


And yes, I realize in a big pile of hail stones there is also a lot of empty space, air and liquid water that the stones will normally try to float on...

but they ended up using plows to clear the road from ice.

That's extremely much more than anything I've ever seen.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1141. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1099. 1911maker 12:40 AM GMT on April 12, 2012 +1
Quoting Patrap:
Three Friday the 13ths, 13 weeks apart, a rarity




Thanks, and from the link

It's hard not to feel something about Friday the 13th, Fernsler says. "I find that 95% of people in the world are superstitious about something, and the other 5% are liars," he said.
Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: February 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 208


its the 2012 luck of the draw
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1140. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting PlazaRed:
Quoting:-
Skye, have they decided to admit those fire are toxic yet or are they pretending they have gone out, IE, Extinguished?


The landfill fires are numerous today.. Janesville one maybe out. That one was assumed poisonous.

The Staten Island landfill fire yesterday that they were saying wasn't poisonous..well new concerns arose with a yellow cloud. Results of air samples down wind are now being asked to be released. There is 1000s of acres burning still in that area.

New landfill fire in Surprise, AZ today.. One in OH they are still battling from yesterday.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Are you expecting a bigger event tomorrow or Saturday?

It depends on the strength and position of the Low Level Jet when Saturday rolls around. It looks like the two could be pretty evenly matched, or tomorrow may win by just a little bit.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yes...there there is a possibility of isolated tornadoes anywhere in that red area.

Are you expecting a bigger event tomorrow or Saturday?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7566
1136. hydrus
Quoting pottery:

Had the first bush-fire threaten us yesterday here.
Good thing I was home to keep it from crossing the fire-trace.
Spent 3 hours out there, in a heat index of 96F, getting close to the flames from time to time.

A rather HOT way to spend an afternoon...
Glad you and your flat did not have fire damage..I mention in passing that Red with ice cubes is a surefire way to cool off..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20328
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

But it specifically states isolated tornadoes

Yes...there there is a possibility of isolated tornadoes anywhere in that red area.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That graphic just means tornadoes are possible anywhere in that area.

But it specifically states isolated tornadoes
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7566
Quoting txjac:


This will be over with by Sunday?? I fly out to Tulsa again on Sunday and dont want to have to deal with this

Nope, it'll last at least until the middle of next week.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Now my friend made this image for tomorrow:



Get him on the blog:P
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I think tornadoes Saturday will be a little more than isolated like that graphic says; probably a pretty big event

That graphic just means tornadoes are possible anywhere in that area.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
Quoting Ameister12:
Major cities under a risk for severe weather on Saturday.

I think tornadoes Saturday will be a little more than isolated like that graphic says; probably a pretty big event
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7566
1129. txjac
Quoting Ameister12:
Major cities under a risk for severe weather on Saturday.


This will be over with by Sunday?? I fly out to Tulsa again on Sunday and dont want to have to deal with this
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Major cities under a risk for severe weather on Saturday.
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Quoting pottery:

Had the first bush-fire threaten us yesterday here.
Good thing I was home to keep it from crossing the fire-trace.
Spent 3 hours out there, in a heat index of 96F, getting close to the flames from time to time.

A rather HOT way to spend an afternoon...


Hi pottery. Is Trinidad & Tobago going thru a drought? I have seen reports from some of the islands such as Guadeloupe,Antigua,Nevis among others that things are very dry.
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1126. pottery
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
March was a very wet month in Puerto Rico as many records were broken.And it's supposed to be the second driest month of the year.



Link

Had the first bush-fire threaten us yesterday here.
Good thing I was home to keep it from crossing the fire-trace.
Spent 3 hours out there, in a heat index of 96F, getting close to the flames from time to time.

A rather HOT way to spend an afternoon...
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What the HAIL? My god has everyone seen the FEET of hail in Texas? OMG it's INSANE!!!
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
tornado on an amarillo storm
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
Now my friend made this image for tomorrow:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31326
March was a very wet month in Puerto Rico as many records were broken.And it's supposed to be the second driest month of the year.



Link
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Quoting weatherh98:


yes like the speed of light, you cant touch it haha


the probability will look something like this, but this is from a birthday problem:


night all
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
1120. pottery
Quoting Neapolitan:
Here's video of a flash flood consisting of hail slush taken near Amarillo this evening. Imagine a billion-gallon, mud-flavored Slurpee:


Looks like something from a Dread movie.
Would not want to be swept away in that at all at all!
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


yes but twice an area doesnt have twice the probability, so you will always aprroach 100%, as your area gets larger and larger.


yes like the speed of light, you cant touch it haha
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting weatherh98:


They curve the numbers.

So they dont go over 100%


yes but twice an area doesnt have twice the probability, so you will always aprroach 100%, as your area gets larger and larger.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
10:55:17pmGMT 11April2012:
Magnitude7.0earthquake at 18.390n102.652w at a depth of 65.6kilometres(40.7miles)
~39miles(63kilometres)NW of LazaroCardenas(LZC)
and ~245miles(395kilometres)WSW of MexicoCity(MEX)


1014 ncstorm: Didn't Mexico City just have an earthquake a couple of weeks ago?

The 20March earthquake was a magnitude7.4 at 16.662n98.188w
about midway between Acapulco(ACA) and Oaxaca(OAX)
and ~199miles(321kilometres)SSE of MexicoCity
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1115. hartfa
Quoting RTSplayer:
TWO TO FOUR FEET OF HAIL?!

Did they mis-read the ticker twice?

Of course, the Radar estimated the hail at well over 2 inches for several consecutive hours, so at least several inches of hail seemed inevitable...but FEET?

That's got to be some sort of world record...


Can a local met or storm chaser or just a blogger from the area please clarify this?


They did not read the ticker wrong. US 287 is closed, and per the local news, the highway department is reporting that there were indeed 2 to 4 feet of hail piled up in areas, and that 100 feet of the highway had been washed out due to the flooding.

One of the local stations has a blog with several pictures of the deep hail, including one that looks just like a blizzard. The hail was producing white-out conditions. There are also several pictures of small funnels from that cell and others.

Link

Interestingly, Amarillo has had similar events in the past. On July 8, 2010 a storm dumped 10 inches of rain in a couple of hours just northeast of the city. And in May of 1978, a pair of supercells dumped what was estimated to be over 20 inches of rain over a narrow swath near Canyon, Texas.
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I can imagine two to four feet of hail (washed in with the accompanying rain) accumulating in in ditches/depressions. I have seen marble-sized hail, deposited "one marble deep" overall, about a foot deep in drainages.
(edit)
We shoveled it into a garbage can to ice down a keg.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.