When NOAA announced last week that the Lower 48 observed its fourth warmest March on record, I thought that it was notable, but nothing extraordinary, especially in light of some of the other warm weather milestones reached recently.
But in his useful blog “Beyond the Data,” NOAA climatologist Deke Arndt discovered, in his words, a “stunning feature”: For the first time on record during a calendar month, every one of 357 climate divisions in the Lower 48 and Alaska was warmer than normal.
“I thought that was rare, but didn’t know how rare,” Arndt wrote.
Arndt analyzed more than 1,000 months of data before he realized what the month had accomplished.
It’s no small feat for every climate division to earn a warmer than normal classification. It means the division’s warmth must rank in the top third of its long-term history.
While Arndt found wall-to-wall warmth had occurred three previous times (Jan. 2006, Feb. 1991 and Feb. 1930) in the Lower 48, Alaska was colder than normal in those instances.
But this time Alaska was toasty and, as such, it marked the first occasion on which both the Lower 48 and Alaska were completely devoid of cold or even normal weather (relative to average).
Due to the burst of heat from El Nino and the long-term global warming trend, warm weather record after record has fallen in 2015 and 2016. These records have occurred at the global, regional and local levels.
This is yet another.