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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never mind i deleted it.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9746
A 15% chance of a tornado within 25 miles of any particular location is significant. Imagine how the people felt on April 27 when they were in a 45% chance of seeing a significant tornado within 25 miles of their location.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32717
Quoting floridafisherman:



about 10-12 years ago, a pop up summer thunderstorm dumped 14 inches in a period of about 6 hours or so where i live. this was a very localized amount, which often happens with florida summer time storms. the streets were under a foot of water and all the drainage ditches were filled up and moving like swollen rivers. but 12 hours later, it was all gone for the most part. florida is an interesting place to live in regards to weather.
I wouldn't mind spending my last few years down their in that state since I'm a weather nut.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

An SPC issued 15% risk actually indicates a very high chance of tornadoes... It's kind of confusing


Because tornadoes are that rare. They seem common given the average annual count of 1000, but the actual odds of being hit by a tornado is extremely small. Even more statistically unlikely is a particular neighborhood being hit by a tornado.
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about 10-12 years ago, a pop up summer thunderstorm dumped 14 inches in a period of about 6 hours or so where i live. this was a very localized amount, which often happens with florida summer time storms. the streets were under a foot of water and all the drainage ditches were filled up and moving like swollen rivers. but 12 hours later, it was all gone for the most part. florida is an interesting place to live in regards to weather.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

An SPC issued 15% risk actually indicates a very high chance of tornadoes... It's kind of confusing


Yea how haha?
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting weatherh98:


ohhh okay?

An SPC issued 15% risk actually indicates a very high chance of tornadoes... It's kind of confusing
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
Quoting Ameister12:

No, just in the predicted area. This general area:



ohhh okay?
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Why with all the strong quakes?.Maybe the earth will end this year in December.
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Did you hear that?

Jim Cantore said earlier that it was 2 to 4 FEET of Hail near Amarillo.

I didn't say anything because I thought he had mis-spoken.


But Kim Cunningham just said the same thing.


Are they reading off a card?

Is that a mistake?


that is absolutely unimaginable.

I'm sure that's an isolated case, but good God.

That's like a blizzard in Buffalo, NY or something.

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?


that is an absolutely unimaginable total...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting weatherh98:


does that mean you think there will be a 15% chance of a tornado anywhere.

No, just in the predicted area. The general area where the slight risk is:

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Link

For mexico quake and

Link

For Oregon quake
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ameister12:
Finally back home!

Here are my predictions on tomorrow's possible severe weather outbreak.

Categorical: Moderate Risk

Tornadoes
: 15%

Hail
: 45%

Wind
: 30-45%

Anyone agree?



does that mean you think there will be a 15% chance of a tornado anywhere.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting Doppler22:
I heard this in the weather channel

There has been a 5.6 Earthquake off the coast of Oregon and a 7.0 earthquake in Mexico....

Is this the day of earthquakes or something???

Yes, didn't you check the calendar this morning?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
I heard this in the weather channel

There has been a 5.6 Earthquake off the coast of Oregon and a 7.0 earthquake in Mexico....

Is this the day of earthquakes or something???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Predictions for tomorrow:

Tornado: 10%

Wind: 30%

Hail: 45%

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
Quoting RTSplayer:
They added some more flash flood warning boxes, which was a no brainer.

Still 3.9in per hour accumulations under the main cell.


Im surprised it has not collapsed, usually the updrafts should stop and be cut off by now, especially with it being slow moving.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Finally back home!

Here are my predictions on tomorrow's possible severe weather outbreak.

Categorical: Moderate Risk

Tornadoes
: 15%

Hail
: 45%

Wind
: 30-45%

Anyone agree?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RTSplayer:
They added some more flash flood warning boxes, which was a no brainer.

Still 3.9in per hour accumulations under the main cell.

In addition to the fact that it is also still putting down 1.5 inch hail and still has rotation
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002


day 2
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



Looks like it's going to be a bumpy ride tomorrow. :P
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Jim Cantore on TWC just said that cell, now near Fritch NE of Amarillo really has only moved 20miles in the past 4 hours.

So yeah. Sick stuff.

Never heard of it.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
They added some more flash flood warning boxes, which was a no brainer.

Still 3.9in per hour accumulations under the main cell.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1040. hydrus
Quoting PlazaRed:
Ive got to drop out of this scenario for tonight here as its 1.30 am.
Hope everybody is OK with these quakes and I also hope that the blog doesn't slip into hibernation.
A bit disconcerting all these quakes with 2 on the West of the ring of fire and now 2 on the East side as well?
Stay safe you people!
G,nite Red..:)
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45 Quakes over 5.0 in last 7 days.
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they dont need more rain but its gonna keep coming
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting weatherh98:


looks like a new stom moving right that way, this is UGLY


Yeah, for the longest time, it was just 2 or 3 very slow moving, but isolated cells.

The other cells have only closed in during about the past 30 minutes.

I lost track of how long this has actually been going on now, but I think it must have been some time around 2:15p.m. central time when it started.

So that same cell has been warned for 100% hail 80% to 100% severe and 1 inches to 3.5 inches continuously for at least 4.5 hours consecutively.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
cold settling in.
brrrrrr.

and does anyone have confirmation on the denver tornado?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9746



storms are coming back to meet the current ones!!1
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
.
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Quoting weatherh98:


make a map for it!!

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32717
Ive got to drop out of this scenario for tonight here as its 1.30 am.
Hope everybody is OK with these quakes and I also hope that the blog doesn't slip into hibernation.
A bit disconcerting all these quakes with 2 on the West of the ring of fire and now 2 on the East side as well?
Stay safe you people!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2152
Quoting weatherh98:


north korea

Probably...

The USGS has a total of 38 earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or greater listed for today... That must be an all time record
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
Quoting RTSplayer:
I have never heard of 10in of rainfall accumulation from one pop-up thunderstorm.

Goodness.

I mean tropical storms, or a well developed, slow moving front, sure.


Just a single cell, stalled out thunderstorm dumping 10 inches on somebody?

That's new to me for sure.


looks like a new stom moving right that way, this is UGLY
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
I have never heard of 10in of rainfall accumulation from one pop-up thunderstorm.

Goodness.

I mean tropical storms, or a well developed, slow moving front, sure.


Just a single cell, stalled out thunderstorm dumping 10 inches on somebody?

That's new to me for sure.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Who made Earth so mad?


north korea
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539



Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting PlazaRed:
Interesting that the whole WU blog and site shut down from my point of view at the same time as the "Oregon quake," struck until the Mexico quake struck.
I have no idea of course if anybody else noticed this, or maybe it was just a link problem?


I have had two issues so far this afternoon.
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Who made Earth so mad?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
Now there is training starting to form.

There are many new cells moving in from the west and southwest of Amarillo, headed back into the same areas hit so hard by the hail storms in the past several hours.

they might get a lull for a bit once the big slow mover finally gets out of the way, but it looks like some solid storms are already moving in to replace them ASAP.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1023. ncstorm
Quoting PlazaRed:
Interesting that the whole WU blog and site shut down from my point of view at the same time as the "Oregon quake," struck until the Mexico quake struck.
I have no idea of course if anybody else noticed this, or maybe it was just a link problem?


Yeah, I couldnt get on either
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16215
wow yesterday there was not one significant earthquake and today i think we are at 5 and probably counting!
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Quoting PlazaRed:
Interesting that the whole WU blog and site shut down from my point of view at the same time as the "Oregon quake," struck until the Mexico quake struck.
I have no idea of course if anybody else noticed this, or maybe it was just a link problem?


Nah, I've been having trouble as well.
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was wunderground down?

anyway i had this form the Amarillo storm:


but i couldnt get logged in.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9746
Interesting that the whole WU blog and site shut down from my point of view at the same time as the "Oregon quake," struck until the Mexico quake struck.
I have no idea of course if anybody else noticed this, or maybe it was just a link problem?
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2152


Here are the recent West Coast ones.

Well that was a map of the 5.9 and the 7.0 one and a bunch of smaller but it didn't load. Site or me having issues, or both.
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1017. hydrus
Looking at this, one might think the second system will produce the most severe weather..Link
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Heck no.

the monster thunderstorm northeast of Amarillo.

It's been going for several hours now.

Never seen anything quite like it really.

they posted flash flood warnings about an hour ago, but I expect new flash flood warnings may be needed in the next half hour.

this one is just ridiculous.


Thats insane, watch the nexxt drought monitor, there will be a streak of no drought because of this cell.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Lol.

Passing 10 inches of max storm accumulation...for NE of Amarillo, TX.

It was "just" a pop-up thunderstorm.

No training, n othing like that.

It just stalled out and that's what it's done.

I guess it might have moved 20 or 30 miles the whole time.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1014. ncstorm
Didnt Mexico City just had an earthquake a couple of weeks ago?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16215

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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.