A Look Back at March 2012

It was one year ago this week that Southwest Michigan experienced the beginnings of what turned out to be the most remarkable stretch of warm March weather on record

On March 14, Grand Rapids reached 80 degrees, which was the earliest 80 degree reading on record for the calendar year.  By the 20th, the thermometer rose to 83 degrees, breaking the previous monthly record of 82 degrees set on March 29, 1910 and also March 22, 1938.  The very next day on the 21st, another monthly record was set at a whopping 87 degrees.  This was 40 degrees above the normal high for March 21.  The average temperature on the 21st for Grand Rapids was 74 degrees, given a low of 61.  This was 37 degrees above the normal average temperature.

A very stable pattern set up for the middle of March 2012, with very little precipitation recorded from March 13 - 22.  Not surprisingly, the average wind direction during this period was out of the southwest.  An expansive area of high pressure across the eastern United States refused to budge for quite some time, allowing warm Gulf air to surge well north of the U.S./Canadian border.  As a result, residents of Lower Michigan experienced very warm to occasionally hot weather.

Below is a listing of the high temperatures and new records that were set during the warmest stretch in March 2012.  Numbers listed in red were new daily records.  Monthly records have an asterisk.

 

Grand Rapids

Date       Actual High       Previous Record High

3/14        80                        75 in 1995

3/15        74                        75 in 1990

3/16        79                        71 in 1945

3/17        78                        73 in 1966

3/18        75                        75 in 1903

3/19        81                        75 in 1921

3/20        83                        74 in 1921

3/21        87*                      76 in 1938

3/22        85                        82 in 1938

3/23        65                        74 in 1907

Muskegon

Date        Actual High      Previous Record High

3/14        77                        71 in 1995

3/15        65                        72 in 1990

3/16        72                        70 in 1945

3/17        77                        70 in 1966

3/18        73                        69 in 1903

3/19        76                        70 in 1903

3/20        82*                      73 in 1903

3/21        82*(Tie)              72 in 1953

3/22        81                        68 in 1979

3/23        66                        73 in 1907

Lansing

Date        Actual High       Previous Record High

3/14        79                        76 in 1990

3/15        78                        77 in 1990

3/16        78                        70 in 1927

3/17        78                        71 in 1966

3/18        73                        75 in 1894

3/19        79                        76 in 1921

3/20        83                        75 in 1921

3/21        86*                      73 in 1918

3/22        83                        81 in 1938

3/23        66                        71 in 1994

 

*denotes new monthly record

 

Following the record March warmth, a series of crippling frost and freeze events wiped out a major portion of the fruit crop across the state and did damage to a considerable amount of trees.  This was a direct result of the premature budding that occurred during the summer-like stretch in March.



Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.