We still have one more week left in May, but after a record-warm March and above-average temperatures on all but four days this month, Washington, D.C. is on track to record its warmest meteorological spring on record.
Through yesterday (May 23), the monthly average temperature at D.C.’s Reagan National Airport was running 4.3 degrees F above normal. A slightly warmer-than-average April on the heels of unusual March warmth has brought D.C.’s 2012 springtime temperature up to 61.4ºF, or 4.9 degrees above the March-May average of 56.5ºF.
Steve Scolnik of CapitalClimate reports that the average spring temperature in 2012 easily surpasses D.C.’s current record-warmest meteorological spring of 60.7º in 1977.
With summerlike warmth and continued overnight lows in the 60s for the next several days, it’s unlikely that Spring 2012 will fall into second place. High temperatures around 90 degrees this Memorial Day weekend will only amplify an already warmer than average May. For perspective, Reagan National Airport has recorded only two cooler-than-average days this month (May 10-11), and each of those days was only 1ºF below normal. Before that, D.C. last recorded a below-average temperature on April 30.
Assuming 2012 becomes Washington’s warmest meteorological spring, it would bump spring 2010 to third place. Yet if you prefer the traditional definition of the seasons (March 20-June 20), 2010 still holds the record for warmest astronomical spring at both Reagan National and Washington-Dulles airports.
Record warm spring in the U.S.
In addition to D.C., many other locations in the lower 48 states – notably east of the Rockies – will likely record their warmest meteorological spring on record. With a northward-moving jet stream set to bring summerlike warmth to the Midwest and Eastern U.S. in the final days of May, 2012 could end up with the warmest March-May period on record nationally. This would surpass the current record from 1910, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
The map to the right illustrates surface air temperature anomalies across much of North America since March 1 of this year. Orange and red-shaded areas indicate temperatures around 3-4 degrees above normal. As 90-degree temperatures are forecast from the Central Plains to the Ohio River Valley and mid-Atlantic this holiday weekend, we shouldn’t expect the overall contours of this map to change much as spring comes to a close next week.
Stay tuned for more updates next month…