March was warmest on record in US; 15,000 temperature records broken


Green Right Now Reports

Now it’s official: March 2012 was warmest on record in the continental US.

Unseasonably hot temperatures slammed into the Midwest, Eastern and Southern states, creating a sudden spring, and shattering more than 15,000 warm temperature records for localities in dozens of states from Maine to Nevada, and Georgia to Texas. The average temperature for the nation was 51.1°F —  8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March.

Map shows the number of temperature records broken in each state. (NOAA)

The nation’s mid-section was the hardest hit, with a swath of states from Minnesota to Arkansas experiencing their hottest-ever March temperatures, in some cases breaking records by several degrees. Only Washington state and Alaska reported cooler than average temperatures.

Twenty-five states recorded their warmest March on record with another 15 states recording monthly temperatures that ranked among the ten warmest (March temps) on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In the East, the warmest temperatures created a climate suitable for earlier spring storms and tornadoes. More than 223 tornadoes were recorded during March, which usually averages about 80 tornadoes. An outbreak of tornadoes on March 2-3 in the Ohio Valley and Southeast caused 40 deaths and is expected to add up to $1.5 billion in property damage.

The period leading up to the unusual weather in March, also fell at the extreme end of the weather bell curve. The fall and winter season from October 2011 to March 2012, was second warmest on record for the contiguous U.S.. The national average for that period was 3.8°F above average. Only one other warm winter was warmer, the cold season of 1999-2000, according to NOAA.

To read more see the State of the Climate report at the NOAA website.

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