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Posted at 03:11 PM ET, 03/21/2012

Exceptional March heat wave re-writing history in Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast


MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite depicts temperatures March 8-15, 2012 compared to the same stretch averaged over 2000-2011. More information. (NASA)
Warm weather records continue to mount at a feverish pace over the Eastern half of the U.S. Both the intensity and longevity of the summer-like warmth defy belief. From March 12-18, 3,550 record highs were set compared to just 18 record lows across the U.S. Here’s the latest round-up of records...

Chicago: Soared to 87 today, its eighth consecutive day of record warmth. That is the highest temperature so early in the season and just one degree shy of the all-time highest March temperature of 88. Chicago has hit 80 7 times in the last 8 days. It is now only one shy of the APRIL record for most 80+ days and could tie it Thursday. More information from the National Weather Service (NWS).

Detroit: Tied its all-time March record of 82 Tuesday. Appears to have at least tied it today, with a reading of 82 as of 1 p.m. central time. It has been over 70 for the last week, a streak unprecendented in March. More information from NWS.

Milwaukee: Soared to 83 Tuesday, its warmest March temperature on record. It has already matched that today (at least). In nearby Madison, record highs have been set the past 6 days including today, when it reached 83 - a new record high for the entire month. More information from NWS.

Pellston, Michigan: After reaching 80 or higher for three straight days - hotter than ever before in March - it reach 84 Tuesday, a phenomenal 29 degrees above its previous record high (55 in 1976 and 1948) and 44 degrees above average. It has at least matched that today, standing at 84 p.m. as of 2 p.m. central time. In Traverse City, the high has reached at least 87 (45 degrees above normal), surpassing the monthly record set just yesterday. More information from NWS.

Caribou, Maine: The normal high there is 36. It has reached at least 75 today, a new record by 18 degrees (old record 57, 1946). On Monday, Caribou reached 60 or higher the earliest on record in March. On Tuesday, it hit 70+ the earliest on record (73). In Bangor, the mercury surged to at least 82 (breaking old record by 18 degrees), its earliest 80+ reading on record and highest March temperature. More information from NWS

Burlington:Tuesday it recorded its earliest 80 degree reading on record - 9 days ahead of the previous record. It was only the 6th 80 degree day observed in March. Today has climbed to 81, adding a 7th. The snow is melting fast at nearby ski resorts. Win Smith, president and owner of Sugarbush ski resort, blogged: “I have been in New England all of my life and while I have seen wild weather, this is certainly the warmest March I can recall.” (source: Wasatch Weather blog) More information from NWS.

Canada: The Earth third of Canada is also experiencing swelling temperatures. Andrew Freedman, at Climate Central, writes:

Canada, too, basked in the warm weather for another day. Moosonee, Ontario, for example, reached 70°F, a downright tropical reading compared to its normal high for the date of 25°F. Winnipeg, Manitoba set a record high for the month of March, with 74.7°F, beating the previous record of 73.9°F, set in 1946

Select record highs today (through 3 p.m. ET): Green Bay (79), Cleveland (81), Portland (76), Syracuse (79), Indianapolis (82), Boston (76), Cincinnati (82), Minneapolis (63), Montreal (75), Flint (85). More preliminary records: CoolWx.com

How unusual is this heat?Jeff Masters - at wunderground - performed a statistical analysis to put some of the record warmth in context. Here’s a summary:

the analysis showed that Michigan experienced temperatures that were 4 - 5 climatological anomalies warmer than average (4-sigma to 5-sigma), the type of extreme that occurs between once every 43 years and once every 4779 years

Relatively cool in the western U.S. and globally: While the statistically rare heat dome bakes the eastern North America, unseasonably cool (but generally not record breaking) conditions have affected locations from Rockies westward. The ChicagoWeatherCenter noted the following chilly highs yesterday: Los Angeles (57 degrees), San Diego (65), Las Vegas (56), Phoenix (66). Elevations above 600 feet are expecting signficant snow in Oregon tonight.


Global temperature anonamlies as of 8 p.m. Tuesday night. Reds/yellows indicate above normal temperatures. Greens/blues indicate below normal temperatures. ( Policlimate.com )
Globally, the warm temperature anomalies over eastern North America stand out like a sore thumb. Many other world regions are cooler than average at the moment.

Related blog posts:

Mind-boggling warm weather records swell in Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast (from Tuesday)

Midwest, Great Lakes basking in unprecedented warm weather for March (from Monday)

Back door cold fronts kick heat out of mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes (from Friday)

Historic record warm weather brings summer to central and eastern U.S. (from Thursday)

Greenhouse gases and global warming activate the steroid era of our atmosphere

By  |  03:11 PM ET, 03/21/2012

Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather

 
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