10 April 2012

March 2012 and Last 12 Months Were Warmest On Record in U.S.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Some amazing data out of the NCDC today:


The 12-month period (April 2011-March 2012), which includes the second hottest summer (June-August) and fourth warmest winter (December-February), was thewarmest such period for the contiguous United States. Twenty-eight states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional eleven states had April-March temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Oregon and Washington were the only states cooler than average for the period. The 12-month running average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 55.4 degrees F, which is 2.6 degrees F above the 20thcentury average.

  • The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was a record 41 percent during March.  The extent of extremes in warm maximum (71 percent) and warm minimum (70 percent) temperatures was at or near record levels across the nation.  A record extent of extremes in both maximum and minimum temperatures covered all of the Northeast, Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley and Southeast regions during the month.
  • Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees F above the 20th century average for March and 0.5 degrees F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.

Here in Salisbury, MD it was the same story. The graphic below was produced by the folks at Climate Central.

Data is iffy in Salisbury before 1949, but there are a couple of years that were likely as warm or warmer. I chatted with NWS Wakefield and it seems that second warmest for the entire period of record may be correct.

Dr. Jennifer Francis (Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University) has just published some fascinating research into the extreme weather we are seeing and I wrote about it here in January. A video of her presentation at the Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge,CO. is included in the post. The loss of Arctic Sea ice over the past few decades must have an effect on our weather, and Jennifer Francis makes a very good case for just how the extreme weather we are seeing is related. It’s well worth a watch (Especially if you do not have subscription to GRL).