April 9, 2012
March Heat Obliterates Old Record
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported today that temperatures in the lower 48 states in the U.S. were 8.6 degrees above average for March.
NOAA said that the record-breaking highs did not just stop in March, but added that the temperatures for the 48 states were 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year.
Meteorologist say an unusual confluence of several weather patterns, including La Nina, was the cause of the warm start to 2012.
NOAA meteorologist Martin Hoerling said that the unusual winter heat is mostly a North America phenomenon, and that most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere has been cold.
The first quarter of 2012 broke the January through March record by 1.4 degrees. These records date back to 1895.
Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA´s National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, N.C., told the Associated Press (AP) that since last April, it has been the hottest 12-month stretch on record.
The U.S. winter of 2010 through 2011 was slightly below average, and was a snowier year than normal. However, the summer of 2011 was the second warmest summer on record for the U.S..
The average temperature for March in the U.S. was 51.1, compared to the normal average of 42.5 degrees.
According to the AP report, at least 7,775 weather stations across the U.S. broke daily high temperature records, and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat.
NOAA said that the early March tornado outbreak in the Ohio Valley and Southeast was the first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2012.
The previous year for the warmest March was in 1910, when William Howard Taft was president of the U.S.
One climate scientist said it is the weather equivalent of a baseball player on steroids, obliterating old records, with global warming being the steroids.
"Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good," Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist who specializes in extreme weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. "It's a guilty pleasure. You're out enjoying this nice March weather, but you know it's not a good thing."
Couch said extremes like this could become more frequent because of manmade climate change from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.