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April 12, 2012

NOAA Reports Unprecedented March Warmth

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the March 2012 National Overview report on April 10th, confirming that March was more than just a month of scattered warmth - it shattered records across the U.S., becoming the only month ever recorded, except for January 2006, that had surpassed its record by such a large margin.

According to NOAA, the average temperature across the U.S. was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average.

However, the report did not just reveal that certain parts of the U.S. had unseasonable warmth; no region was exempt from the weather anomalies.

Every state in the nation experienced at least one record warm daily temperature in March, totaling 15,272 warm temperature records broken.

The Northeast had its warmest March in 118 years this year, averaging 44.4 degrees F, 9.8 degrees above the average for the region.

In the Midwest region, it was the warmest March on record for the region as a whole and individually for each of the nine states within it. Over 6,400 daily temperature records were recorded for the region, 650 of which were records for any day in March.

For instance, in Albany, Missouri, the NOAA recording center established 18 new records for either warmest daily temperature, or record highest low temperature recorded for the day. Sikeston set 17 new records and several other stations in Missouri had 16 new records. Memphis had 15 new record highs out of the 62 possible recordings (31 days in March, with a record high and record highest low temperature measured each day.)

In the Southeast, Virginia, the Carolinas and northern Georgia and Alabama had monthly temperatures that were 9 to 10 degrees F above average. Birmingham, Ala., Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., Columbia, S.C., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Roanoke, Va., all had their warmest March on record. Additionally, many locations in the Southeast experienced all-time March records for number of days with 80-degree-F temperatures and higher.

The High Plains had many summerlike days throughout March, with widespread monthly temperature departures of 9 to 15 degrees. Average monthly temperature records were broken in each state in the region, some of which had been in place for over 100 years. Many cities broke record high daily temperatures, as well, with some as high as 17 degrees above average.

In the South, mean temperatures for the month ranged from 3 to 15 degrees F above normal. Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee each had their warmest March since records began in 1895.

The West was the coolest region of the U.S. throughout March, but it still experienced some record highs. Long Beach, Calif., hit a record high of 91 F for March 4.'s Long-Range Forecasting Team expected the unusual warmth during March and this spring in general.

"At least two-thirds of the nation could wind up with above-normal temperatures (during spring 2012)," Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team, wrote in a forecast back in late February.

Pastelok said that spring of 2012 would feature the most widespread warmth since 2004.

By Jillian McMath, staff writer for

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