March wasn’t just unseasonably warm. It was record-breaking.
“We’re going to end up with the warmest March on record,” Jim Blaess, weather observer for the National Weather Service, said in a phone interview Friday morning. “That would be back to 1879.”
Weather records are gathered using a measure called the average mean temperature, which is determined by adding the average high temperature with the average low temperature, and then dividing by two. With an average mean temperature of 54.8 degrees Fahrenheit, this past March as been 16.2 degrees higher than usual. Blaess said that it easily outpaces the previous average high of 49.2 degrees in 1945.
That record-setting warmth included nearly a week straight of daily record temperatures. Record highs were recorded or tied locally everyday from the 14th to the 21st, with the exception of the 19th, which missed tying 1921’s high of 79 by one degree.
“We set or tied seven records in March,” Blaess said. “That’s the most ever set in March.”
Weather like Clinton has seen over the past four weeks is unprecedented, Blaess said, and will probably never be seen again. A mild winter prevented a “snow pack” from building up in the northern states. Warm air from the Pacific Ocean, usually cooled after passing through snowy areas, hit the Midwest virtually unaffected.
“March, to sustain that warmth for such a period of time is incredible,” Blaess said. “Everything had to be perfect to make this happen, and it did.”
Though some may interpret a warm spring to be a prelude to a boiling summer, Blaess said that’s not necessarily the case. The previous warmest March on record was in 1945, and it was followed by a slightly cooler than normal June, July and August.
Regardless, Blaess believes that this past month will be a talking point for a long time.
“People talk about 1936, how hot it was,” Blaess said, referencing one of the warmest spring seasons on record.
“This is what they’ll be talking about for years to come.”