March Heat Stands Alone
By the time most of you read this blog, it will still be unofficial; namely, March of 2012 is about to go into the record books as the warmest since the late 1880s and the days of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. That alone warrents the Lion logo above. After all, you gotta have the heart of a lion to break a nearly century old record.
Using the Huntington records as my point of reference, the average high this month has topped out at 68 degrees. In other words since March 1st, the high during the past 31 days has averaged 68. That number is 13 degrees above normal.
Until this year, the warmest March had been in 1921. During that roaring 20s year in the Al Capone and bootlegging/prohibition era, the average high was 67 degrees.
The same math, applied to the low temperatures holds true. This March's lows have been higher than those of 1921.
Benefactors of the warmth are many and varied. Homeowners can brag that March heating bills were nil putting the finishing touches on a mild winter. My home heating bills were off by 40% this year as I heated my home for less than 300 dollars.
Our trees and flowers sprung into action early and hit their peak some 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. Of course with the good came the bad as tree pollen season kicked in just as early. Of course, the earlier the trees are pollinating, the faster they will make their green foliage and hence the faster they will shut down their pollen making assembly lines. I expect tree pollens to ramp down in late April rather than early may this year.
Lawn movers have been humming for 3 weeks now as the growing season is off and running. Many landscapes are in early summer form (even without the tender geraniums, impatiens and tomatoes). But a word to the wise, more frosts are ahead so don't get any crazy ideas!
Take this past week when fruit growers held their breathes. Though the freeze only zapped some trees (See my blog from earlier this week), we must still worry about the premature blossoms in April when a new freeze threatens.
Of course, I have been asked by many, what does a warm March mean? A blistering summer ahead, surmise many. If we use 1921 as a benchmark, a searing heat wave did push temperatures to 100 degrees for several scorching days in late June that year. Since this present weather pattern has some of the hallmarks of a hot summer, I half believe the early season heat theory.
Still, the key factor in determining a searing summer is the water budget stored in the ground in spring. A wet spring usually leads to plenty of afternoon summer clouds through evaporation and hence more thundershowers and moderate temperatures. Meanwhile a dry spring means less clouds, higher temperatures and a better chance of a summer sizzler and drought.
So far, March rains have been below normal, fueling the notion of a hot summer ahead. But even as I write this prose on Friday night, there are drenching thunderstorms in striking distance on HD Doppler Radar. One or two well placed storms could turn a rain deficit into a surplus in an hour or 2. In addition, don’t tell folks in Lincoln, Logan and Mingo County we had a dry March! There the mid month flash floods measured more rain in 4 hours than normally falls in 40 days!
So there you have it, the warm legacy of March 2012 is established. Sadly, the month will also be known for the Mother of all Tornado outbreaks. That leaves it up the meteorologist to do the research to see if/how the two were related.
And miles to go before I sleep.