After a very mild winter, parts of the northeastern United States were hit by a late season snow storm earlier this week. The major cities along the coast recorded rain and strong wind, but interior regions experienced a wet sloppy snow. The heaviest snow fell along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains along the West Virginia/Virginia border through western Pennsylvania into western New York. Parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine also picked up some snow from the event, but it was generally light.
The warm temperatures this spring in that area allowed most trees to become fully leafed out before the storm hit and the heavy wet snow destroyed thousands of trees as the weight of the snow on those leaves was just too much for many trees. Unfortunately, that same area had a very early snow event last October just before Halloween that also caused significant tree damage as the leaves had not fallen before that storm.
The combination of those two storms in turn made the “year without a winter” a memorable one after all.
In Fargo Moorhead, the average temperature in April is 16.4 degrees warmer than the average for March. Although the exact difference will vary a few degrees from city to city, most locations in the Midwest and upper Great Plains will have a similar difference between those two months. March you will recall was the warmest on record for a large portion of the lower 48 states. Many cities recorded temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees above average.
Chicago for instance, recorded record breaking temperatures last month with an average temperature of 53.5 degrees which was 15.6 degrees above average. Although the temperature this month has continued to above normal, April will likely finish cooler than March in Chicago for only the 2nd time on record.
Locally, April is running slightly warmer than March and the warmer temperatures earlier this week will guarantee that 2012 will not be the first year when a March finished warmer than April, although, it will be
Regular readers of this space will likely remember that March 1910 was by far the warmest March on record until this year. March 1910 was not only warm locally, but throughout much of United States just like this year. As last month was coming to a close many people, including myself, were curious if March 2012 would best March 1910 as the warmest on record in the lower 48 states.
According to analysis released earlier this week from the National Climatic Data Center, last month did end up ranking as the warmest March on record for the lower 48 states. The national average temperature was 51.1 degrees which was 0.5 degrees warmer than March 1910. Considering the massive urban build up in the past 102 years and that most stations now have a warm urban heat island bias, that result was not totally surprising.
Locally, North Dakota as a whole, recorded the 2nd warmest March on record and in Minnesota the month ranked as the warmest.
The current 30 year average temperature in April is 44.2 degrees. What was amazing about last month’s record breaking temperatures was that the average temperature in March was 41.6 degrees, almost as warm as the average for this month. Plus, the average temperature last month was actually warmer than the monthly average high of 36.3 degrees.
Although it is extremely doubtful that the rest of spring will bring with it temperatures so far above seasonal normals, with an increasingly higher sun angle and the lack of snow, the average temperatures do climb rapidly in the spring. The average temperature in March is 27.8 degrees, in April 44.2 degrees, and in May the average climbs to 57.1 degrees. The average temperature is simply the high temperature plus the low temperature divided by two.
The temperature most people tend to notice is the afternoon high. That average increases from the low 50s today to 73 degrees by the end of May. What this means is that eventually, even temperatures that are below average will still be considered mild.