March 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

Published: 8:45 PM GMT on April 15, 2014

March 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

March featured a number of anomalous extreme weather events such as the floods in portions of Egypt and New Zealand, a freak hailstorm in Asmara, Eritrea, record warmth in much of Europe, severe cold and snow in the eastern half of the U.S. and heavy rainfall in the Pacific Northwest that culminated in a deadly landslide in Washington. Preliminary data from NASA indicates that globally (land-ocean temperature index), it was the 4th warmest March on record (since 1880).

Below are some of the month’s highlights.

NORTH AMERICA

It was a long cold month for the eastern and midwestern U.S. with temperatures averaging 7°-10°F (4°-7°C) below normal. In fact, it was the coldest March on record for Vermont and 2nd coldest for Maine and New Hampshire. A blizzard pounded Cape Cod and Nantucket on March 26th where wind gusts reached 83 mph and 10” (25 cm) of snow fell. Ice coverage on Lakes Michigan and Superior reached their 2nd greatest extent since comprehensive records for such began in 1973. In the West a series of wet storms pounded Washington State resulting in a tragic landslide in the town of Oso where at least 39-45 people died.



An aerial view of the tragic landslide at Oso, Washington that resulted in at least 39 fatalities. Photo by Washington State Patrol.

The airport in Seattle (Sea-Tac) measured 9.44” (240 mm) of precipitation; a March record for the site and Portland, Oregon measured 7.52” (191 mm) for its 2nd wettest March. On the other hand, no precipitation was measured in Las Vegas, Nevada tying with six other March’s for the driest such. Drought conditions worsened in the southern Plains and Southwest.





Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) rankings by state for March. It was Vermont’s coldest on record and Montana’s 3rd wettest. NCDC.

Alaska has gotten off to its 3rd warmest start to the year and in Barrow it was the 3rd warmest March since records began there in 1921.

The coldest temperature observed in the northern hemisphere during March was -63.3°C (-81.9°F) at Summit GEO site, Greenland on March 23rd.

SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA

Following the extreme rainfall in Asuncion, Paraguay on February 27th, more extreme rainfall deluged the country between March 14-18.

EUROPE

March was the warmest such on record for Germany and many other locations in Europe. In Germany the March average temperature was 7.0°C (12.6°F) above normal beating out the March’s of 2012 and 1989, the POR going back to 1881. The temperature peaked at 24.1°C (75.4°F) at Sachsenheim on March 20th and the coldest temperature observed in the country during the entire month was a relatively mild -8.6°C (16.5°F) at Oberstdorf on March 26th. Record March heat was observed at many locations across the continent including 19.8°C (67.6°F) in Moscow. For more details on the European March warmth see my blog of March 19th and also on March 12th.

In the U.K. it was also warmer than normal (1.2°C/2.2°F above average) but not on the scale observed in other parts of Europe. Precipitation ran at 85% of the long-term average. The warmest temperature measured during the month was 20.9°C (69.6°F) at St. James Park (London) and Santon Downham, Suffolk on March 30th and the coldest -6.8°C (19.8°F) at Redesdale Camp, Northumberland on March 24th. The greatest 24-hour precipitation measured was 78.8 mm (3.10”) at Cluanie Inn, Highland on March 19-20.

AFRICA

A freak hailstorm battered Asmara, Eritrea on March 12th. See my blog of March 17th for details. Photo from TesfaNews, Asmara.



Hail drifts some one meter thick accumulated in downtown Asmara, Eritrea on March 12th.

Also of note was the exceptional rainstorm that deluged portions of the Upper Nile in Egypt on March 9-10. Luxor picked up 30 mm (1.18”) during the event. It’s average annual rainfall is just a little over 1 mm (.04”).

The hottest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere and on earth during March was 45.5°C (113.9°F) at N’guigmi, Niger on March 30th. The Comoros Islands came within 0.1°C of setting its all-time national heat record on March 23rd when a temperature of 35.5°C (95.9°F) was observed at Grande Comore Airport.

ASIA

Torrential rainfall pounded southern China and Hong Kong on March 30th with 174 mm (6.85”) measured in 24 hours at Guangzhou (Canton).

The Kashmir of India and Pakistan experienced a tremendous snowfall on March 10-12 with Srinagar, India picking up 211 mm (8.31”) of melted precipitation and the snowfall ranging from 25-60 cm (10-25”) in and around the city. Avalanches resulted in the deaths of at least 16 and injured 30 in the region.



Trucks stranded along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway near Qazigund during the heavy snowfall of March 10-12. Photo from The Hindu newspaper.

AUSTRALIA

March was warmer than average overall and the 7th warmest on record for Western Australia. Precipitation was 34% below the long-term average nation-wide although some extreme rain events resulted in flash floods in parts of Queensland and New South Wales. A two-day rainfall of 557 mm (21.93”) was measured at Pacific Heights in Yeppoon, Queensland on March 27-28.






Temperature deciles (top map) and precipitation deciles (bottom map) for Australia during the month of March Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The highest temperature observed in Australia and the southern hemisphere during March was 44.6°C (112.3°F) at Roebourne Aero, Western Australia on March 7th and the coldest -0.7°C (30.7°F) at Mount Hotham, Victoria on March 17th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 324.6 mm (12.78”) at Pacific Heights, Queensland on March 27.

NEW ZEALAND

A terrific storm, said to be the worst in 40 years, battered Christchurch, South Island on March 3-5. For details see my blog of March 7.



Flooding in Christchurch following the storm of March 3-5 which dropped 100-150 mm (4”-6”) of rain on the city in just 24 hours. Photo by Joseph Johnson.

Precipitation was low again (50% of normal) for most of the North Island following a dry February. Many locations ranked in their top three for driest March on record. Hamilton experienced its second driest March on record with only 6 mm (0.24”) of rain (POR 1935, 7%), and Palmerston North had 9 mm (0.35”), driest on record for March (POR 1928, 14%). The South Island was drier on the western side and wetter in the east and south. Christchurch had its wettest March on record, 200mm (7.87”) (POR 1863, 467%) as a result of the big March 3-5 storm. On the west coast of the South Island Westport had just 25mm (0.98”), its driest ever March (POR 1944, 18%).

The highest temperature measured during the month was 30.8°C (87.4°F) at Wallaceville, North Island on March 16th and the coldest -3.3°C (26.1F) at Pukaki Airport, South Island on March 25th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 153 mm (6.02”) at Lyttelton, South Island on March 4th.

ANTARCTICA

The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during March was –74.5C (-102.1°F) recorded at Dome A on March 22nd. This was close to the coldest March temperature ever measured in Antarctica during a March which was -76.1°C (-104.1°) at Ago 4 site some years ago (this site is now closed).

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data, and Michael Theusner of Klimahaus for the German statistics.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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About The Author
Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.

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