Astonishing March temperature reversal: 2013 vs. 2012

Mother nature does her best to even things out: The chart-busting heat of March 2012 was followed by a March that closed out cooler than normal in 2013 in the Lower 48.

Consider this map comparing the two Marches prepared by NOAA:

Temperatures in March 2013 (top) vs. March 2012 (bottom). (NOAA)

Temperatures in March 2013 (top) vs. March 2012 (bottom). (NOAA)

Whereas March 2012 was a record-shattering 8.6 degrees above normal in the contiguous U.S., March 2013 was 0.9 degrees F. below the 20th century average, ranking 43st coolest.

Detailed information: March 2013 State of the Climate report (NOAA)

State temperature rankings March 2012 (left) vs. March 2013 (right). (NOAA)

State temperature rankings March 2012 (left) vs. March 2013 (right). (NOAA)

NOAA attributed the cooler than average March to the most negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) in March on record.  A highly negative AO is associated with a large dip in the jet stream over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., which shifts cold air from the Arctic southward.  Remarkably, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina had March temperatures  cooler than January.

Related: Record blocking patterns fueling extreme weather: detailed look at why it’s so cold

The relatively cool March was poorly forecast.  Consider this comparison of March’s forecast temperatures compared to reality:

NOAA's 30 day climate outlook for March 2013 (left) vs actual temperatures (right). (from @upstatenywx on Twitter)

NOAA’s 30 day climate outlook for March 2013 (left) vs actual temperatures (right). (from @upstatenywx on Twitter)

Although this past March was cooler than normal in many areas, the extremes in cold could not match the extremes in heat established one year ago.  More than 15,000 warm weather records were set in March 2012.

Here’s a video round-up of March 2013 from NOAA:

Related links:

March 2012: Warm weather records smashed, more than 90 cities with warmest March on record

Stunning reversal: March 2013 was 13 degrees colder than March 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Also on Capital Weather Gang

Record snowstorm dumps on Northern Plains as winter refuses to exit