The Western United States just saw a record warm start to the year, while the Northeast region saw its record coldest, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which released a portion of its monthly climate report on Wednesday morning.
Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Wyoming all broke the record for warmest period from January to March, NOAA says. Idaho came close, having seen its second-warmest start to the year, and Montana had its third-warmest.
But, unsurprisingly, none of the statewide temperature stats come close to that of California, which surpassed the previous record-warmest January-March period — set just last year — by an astonishing 1.8 degrees. The state ran 7.5 degrees above average for the first three months of 2015, a fever fueled by a perfect storm of way-above-average Pacific Ocean temperatures, a “ridiculously resilient ridge” that just won’t go away and an epic drought.
The past 12 months — April 2014 to March 2015 — was also the warmest 12-month period on record for California, a record that has been bested every month, seven times in a row, since September 2014.
Contrast that record warmth with the record cool start to the year in New York and Vermont. “The New York year-to-date temperature was 16.9°F, 6.8°F below average, dropping below the previous record of 17.4°F set in 1912,” writes NOAA. “The Vermont January-March temperature was 13.3°F, 6.4°F below average, tying the same period in 1923.”
February was the coldest month out of any month on record for Bangor, Maine, and the coldest February on record in Caribou. But despite these records, the three-month period from January to March ranked as just the sixth coldest in the state of Maine overall, and it was just the 12th coldest March.
Looking at the rankings on a regional scale, the Northeast saw its coldest start to the year on record thanks to 16 states with much cooler-than-average temperatures, while the West — which actually is made of three separate NOAA regions — saw its warmest.
On the whole, though, the warmth won across the United States in March, which was the 12th warmest March on record for the lower 48 states at 3.9 degrees above the 20th-century average. The period from January to March was the 24th warmest on record, at 2 degrees above average.