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2012 March

Great Lakes ice cover down 71% since 1973

Ice cover on North America's Great Lakes--Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario, and Erie--has declined 71% since 1973, says a new study researchers at NOAA. The biggest loser of ice during 1973 - 2010 was Lake Ontario, which saw an 88% decline in ice cover. Superior lost 79% of its ice, Michigan lost 77%, Huron lost 62%, and Erie lost 50%. The loss of ice is due to warming of the lake waters.

JeffMasters, • 1:08 PM GMT on March 30, 2012

February 2012 the globe's 22nd warmest; record Hawaii hailstone confirmed

February 2012 was the globe's 22nd warmest February on record. It was the coolest February since 1994, and the coolest month, relative to average, since January 2008. The relatively cool temperatures were due, in part, to the on-going La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific, which has brought a large amount of cool water to the surface. Eurasia had its third largest snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record, while North America had its fourth lowest.

JeffMasters, • 2:09 PM GMT on March 28, 2012

Hard freeze hits Midwest and Northeast fruit trees

Large portions of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania shivered through a hard freeze (temperatures below 28°F) this morning, and cold temperatures likely caused widespread damage to flowering plants fooled into blooming by last week's unprecedented "Summer in March" heat wave. It will be several weeks before the extent of the damage is known, but it is unlikely this morning's freeze caused a significant billion-dollar freeze disaster, such as occurred in April 2007.

JeffMasters, • 2:36 PM GMT on March 27, 2012

Hard freeze likely to significantly damage Midwest fruit trees

After a week of temperatures in the 70s and 80s last week, it was a rude awakening for Michigan this morning, as temperatures across all but the extreme southern portions of the state dropped below freezing. Tonight, far colder temperatures in the low to mid-20s are expected across the entire state, and frosts and freezes are also expected across much of the Midwest and Northeast, causing widespread damage to flowering plants fooled into blooming by last week's unprecedented "Summer in March" heat wave.

JeffMasters, • 1:13 PM GMT on March 26, 2012

Summer in March, 2012, draws to a close

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.

JeffMasters, • 4:54 PM GMT on March 23, 2012

Summer in March peaks in U.S. and Canada; record late snow in Oregon

A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history peaked in intensity yesterday, during its tenth day. Pellston, MI broke its record high by 32°F.The low temperature at Marquette, Michigan was 52° yesterday, which was 3° warmer than the previous record high for the date. Multiple Canadian cites broke their all-time April records for warmth in March.

JeffMasters, • 1:17 PM GMT on March 22, 2012

Summer in March: more all-time March temperature records in U.S., Canada

Summer in March continued for the eighth day yesterday, toppling dozens of records for hottest March day in both the U.S. and Canada. Nearly every major airport in Michigan's Lower Peninsula tied or set records for their hottest March temperature, including Detroit (82°), Flint (84°F), Saginaw (83°F), Grand Rapids (83°), Muskegon (82°), Lansing (83°), Alpena (84°), Gaylord (80°), Pellston (84°), Traverse City (86°), and Houghton Lake (81°). Most of these records will be broken again today.

JeffMasters, • 2:53 PM GMT on March 21, 2012

Torrential rains in Oklahoma; Summer in March continues for Midwest

A significant flood event is underway in Eastern Oklahoma, where widespread rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches have fallen since yesterday. Up to four more inches of rain is likely today, and the National Weather Service in Tulsa is warning of the potential for "widespread and potentially catastrophic areal flooding and river flooding" should some of the higher rainfall amounts being forecast materialize. Numerous rivers across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas are now approaching flood stage.

JeffMasters, • 2:07 PM GMT on March 20, 2012

Tornadoes, extreme flooding, unprecedented heat expected in U.S. today

Widespread and potentially catastrophic flooding is expected this afternoon through Wednesday morning in Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Western Louisiana, and Southwest Missouri. The storm system responsible is a massive, slow-moving trough of low pressure over the Western U.S. that dumped heavy snows that closed several interstate highways in Arizona over the weekend. This storm system will collide with a warmest and moistest air mass ever recorded in March in the Central and Eastern U.S.

JeffMasters, • 3:04 PM GMT on March 19, 2012

Nation's Icebox basks in 77°F warmth

Yesterday, International Falls, Minnesota set a truly phenomenal weather record for warmth. The city's temperature soared to 77°F, which was 42° above the average high temperature for the date, the city's hottest March temperature on record by 4°. The 77° reading beat the previous record for the date by an astonishing 22°!

JeffMasters, • 1:08 PM GMT on March 18, 2012

Summer in March continues for Midwest; Dexter, MI tornado an EF-3

For the third consecutive day, Chicago, Illinois hit their warmest temperature on record so early in the year, going back to 1872. The mercury hit 82°F, giving the city its third consecutive day of 80°+ temperatures, smashing the old record by a month. Previously, the earliest Chicago had ever seen three consecutive 80 degree days was back on April 14 - 16, 1976.

JeffMasters, • 1:54 PM GMT on March 17, 2012

Rare March tornado rips Michigan; record March heat wave sets more records

A tornado skipped along a ten-mile path through Dexter, Michigan yesterday, damaging or destroying 128 buildings, but fortunately not causing and deaths or injuries. While most of the damage was light to moderate, thirteen homes were demolished, and preliminary damage estimates from the NWS put the twister at the boundary between EF-2 and EF-3 strength, with winds of 135 mph. If confirmed as an EF-3, this would be the earliest EF-3 or stronger tornado in Michigan history, going back to 1950.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on March 16, 2012

Unprecedented early-year heat smashes all-time records in Midwest

The first day of spring doesn't arrive until Tuesday, but Mother Nature has fast-forwarded past spring and gone straight to summer over the Midwest. Yesterday, large portions of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana recorded their all-time warmest temperatures for so early in the year, including the cities of Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Lansing. Temperature records for these cities go back as far as 1863.

JeffMasters, • 2:04 PM GMT on March 15, 2012

Remarkable week-long March heat wave hitting U.S.

A highly unusual week-long heat wave is building over much of the U.S., and promises to bring the warmest temperatures ever seen so early in year to a large portion of the Midwest. The exceptional heat will also be exceptionally long-lasting: record-breaking temperatures 20 - 30 degrees F above normal are expected today through next Wednesday for much of the Midwest and Northeast U.S. The weather system responsible is a large upper-level ridge of high pressure that is "stuck" in place.

JeffMasters, • 4:02 PM GMT on March 14, 2012

March 2 - 3 tornado outbreak: 10th largest in recorded history?

The deadly early-season tornado outbreak of March 2 - 3 that hit Indiana, Kentucky, and surrounding states, killing 41 people, may have been the 10th largest two-day tornado outbreak since record keeping began in 1950. The two-day total of 143 tornadoes from March 2 - 3 is probably an over count of about 15%, based on historical levels of over counts. This would give the March 2 - 3 outbreak around 120 tornadoes, making it the tenth largest outbreak since record keeping began in 1950.

JeffMasters, • 3:06 PM GMT on March 12, 2012

Tornado, hail, and torrential rains hammer Hawaii

A waterspout made landfall on the Hawaiian island of Oahu Friday morning on the east shore town, becoming a rare Hawaiian tornado as it moved through the towns of Lanikai and Kailua. The twister, rated an EF-0 with winds of 60 - 70 mph, tore holes in roofs and downed trees along a 1 1/2 mile long, 20-yard wide path of damage. No injuries were reported. Rainfall amounts over the past week have exceeded three feet in some locations in Hawaii, and the governor on Wednesday declared two islands, Oahu and Kauai, disaster areas.

JeffMasters, • 5:50 PM GMT on March 10, 2012

Fourth warmest winter on record for the U.S.

The non-winter of 2011 - 2012 is the history books as the fourth warmest in U.S. history. The winter average temperature of 36.8°F was just 0.4°F cooler than the warmest winter on record, the winter of 1999 - 2000. If you lived in the Northern Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast, it seemed like winter never really arrived this year--27 states in this region had top-ten warmest winters. Across the U.S., only New Mexico (41st coolest) and Alaska (35th coolest) had winter temperatures colder than average.

JeffMasters, • 2:54 PM GMT on March 08, 2012

Tropical Cyclone Irina kills 72 on Madagascar

Heavy rains from Tropical Cyclone Irina have killed 72 people on Madagascar and left 70,000 homeless. Irina never reached hurricane strength, but dumped heavy rains on the island over an extended period, February 29 - March 2. Irina is the deadliest tropical cyclone of 2012 thus far, and the second deadly storm to affect the island in recent weeks; Tropical Cyclone Giovanna hit the island two weeks ago as a Category 3 storm, killing 35.

JeffMasters, • 3:13 PM GMT on March 07, 2012

The March 2 - 3 tornado outbreak: one EF-4, 39 deaths

A blanket of snow 2 - 4 inches deep fell yesterday on the regions of Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky pounded by deadly tornadoes on Friday, adding to the misery of survivors. The violent tornado rampage killed 39 and injured hundreds more, wreaking property damage that will likely exceed $1 billion. Hardest hit were Kentucky and Southern Indiana, which suffered 21 and 13 dead, respectively. Three were killed in Ohio, and one each in Alabama and Georgia. The scale of the outbreak was enormous, with a preliminary total of 117 tornadoes touching down in eleven states, from southern Ohio to Northern Florida.

JeffMasters, • 2:40 PM GMT on March 05, 2012

Violent tornado rampage in 11 states leaves 31 dead

A massive tornado outbreak of stunning violence swept through the nation's midsection yesterday, spawning deadly tornadoes that killed at least 31. Hardest hit were Kentucky and Southern Indiana, which suffered 13 and 14 dead, respectively. Three were killed in Ohio, and one in Alabama. The scale of the outbreak was truly exceptional, with a preliminary total of 81 tornadoes touching down in eleven states, from southern Ohio to southern Georgia.

JeffMasters, • 5:40 PM GMT on March 03, 2012

High risk of a major tornado outbreak today; 13 dead from Leap Day outbreak

A new storm system is gathering strength over Missouri this morning, and will track northeastward into Southern Michigan tonight. Ideal conditions for tornado formation exist along the storm's cold front, and a large tornado outbreak with damaging long-track tornadoes is likely late this afternoon in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, with many more strong and violent tornadoes than occurred during the Leap Day outbreak.

JeffMasters, • 3:14 PM GMT on March 02, 2012

Eleven deaths in tornado outbreak; new tornado outbreak likely Friday

The winter of 2012 blew out like a lion yesterday, with a massive Leap Day storm that pounded the Midwest with deadly tornadoes and heavy snow. A violent EF-4 tornado with 180 mph winds tore through Harrisburg, Illinois, killing six, injuring approximately 100, and damaging 200 homes and 25 businesses. An EF-2 tornado also plowed through downtown Branson, Missouri yesterday morning, injuring 33 people.

JeffMasters, • 3:29 PM GMT on March 01, 2012