Record March Warmth

Background

An unusually persistent weather pattern set up across the U.S. which resulted in record breaking temperatures from Wednesday March 14th through Wednesday March 21st for all of central and southeast Illinois.  A deep trough of low pressure gradually shifted east from the Rockies into the Plains, while a strong upper level ridge strengthened over the eastern third of the country.  This pattern resulted in sustained southerly wind flow for over a week which transported unseasonably warm and humid air into the Midwest.  Highs in the upper 70s to middle 80s were common, along with lows in the upper 50s to middle 60s.  Normal highs for mid-March are in the lower 50s with normal lows in the lower 30s.  Observed temperatures were more typical of early June than mid-March, or similar to mid-March in central and south Florida!

 

Regional Temperature Anomalies

Maps from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center highlight how far above normal high and low temperatures were across the entire Midwest and Great Lakes.  Daily high temperatures averaged 25 degrees above normal, while lows were 20-25 degrees above normal.

   


Local Records
   

Tables below list March 14-21 record high and warm low temperatures for selected area cities.  "+" indicates record also tied in previous years.  Numbers in parentheses are temperatures observed in 2012 with red numbers indicating a new record set or tied.  Data from Springfield and Peoria is collected from the Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) at each airport.  Lincoln's data is collected at the National Weather Service Office.  All other data is courtesy of volunteer National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observers (COOP).  

Sites with long term records dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s were chosen.  With this long period of record it is a rare occurrence to break a record (most sites only break a few record high temperatures in an entire year).  However as data below show, it was quite common during this historic warm spell with most sites breaking records six or more of the eight days.

Record Highs:     

City Wednesday
March 14
Thursday
March 15
Friday
March 16
Saturday
March 17
Sunday
March 18
Monday
March 19

Tuesday
March 20

Wednesday
March 21
Charleston** 78 in 2007
(81)
78 in 1921+
(78)
80 in 1945
(77)
76 in 1940
(81)
76 in 1903
(80)
81 in 1907
(82)
82 in 1948
(83)
86 in 1907
(85)
Danville** 76 in 2007
(80)
78 in 1921
(81)
80 in 1945
(81)
76 in 1940
(79)
78 in 1918
(80)
80 in 1903
(81)
79 in 1921+
(83)
80 in 1918
(84)
Decatur 78 in 2007 
(78
78 in 1995 
(79)
84 in 1945 
(76)
82 in 1894 
(78)
78 in 1918
(78)
83 in 1921
(78)
83 in 1921
(80)
82 in 1997+
(80)
Effingham* 81 in 2007 
(79)
79 in 2007 
(82)
76 in 1995 
(77)
76 in 1995 
(76)
76 in 1989
(81)
75 in 1969
(80)
74 in 1972
(81)
79 in 1966
(83)
Galesburg* 74 in 1971 
(72)
73 in 1995 
(78)
78 in 1945 
(80)
76 in 1903 
(79)
76 in 1903
(79)
75 in 1976
(80)
74 in 1966
(79)
79 in 1938
(80)
Jacksonville* 81 in 1990 
(80)
79 in 1945+ 
(84)
86 in 1945 
(84)
81 in 1945 
(77)
78 in 1918
(80)
79 in 1921
(79)
84 in 1935
(80)
91 in 1907
(82)
Lincoln 77 in 1933 
(82)
78 in 1935 
(83)
82 in 1945 
(79)
76 in 1940 
(79)
80 in 1918
(81)
79 in 1921
(81)
83 in 1921
(83)
80 in 1918
(84)
Normal* 76 in 2007
(78)
76 in 2007+ 
(81)
80 in 1945 
(83)
82 in 1894 
(81)
79 in 1903
(82)
78 in 1921+
(82)
80 in 1921
(83)
88 in 1907
(84)
Olney* 80 in 2007 
(81)
78 in 1995+ 
(84)
84 in 1945 
(78)
76 in 1989+ 
(76)
76 in 1979+
(83)
82 in 1907
(82)
81 in 1948
(85)
86 in 1907
(85)
Peoria 76 in 1995 
(81
77 in 1935  
(81)
80 in 1945 
(78)
80 in 1894 
(78)
79 in 1903
(81)
79 in 1921
(81)
79 in 1921
(81)
87 in 1907
(82)
Springfield 75 in 2007+ 
(83)
79 in 1995+ 
(83)
82 in 1945 
(79)
79 in 1894 
(79)
77 in 1886
(80)
80 in 1907
(81)
81 in 1921
(82)
91 in 1907
(82)
Urbana 78 in 2007
(81)
76 in 1995
(81)
78 in 1945
(79)
79 in 1945
(81)
75 in 1918+
(80)
77 in 1921+
(81)
79 in 1921
(82)
85 in 1907
(83)
* Sites report at 6 AM or 7 AM.  
**Sites report at 6 PM.
Other sites report at midnight.

Record Warm Lows:

City Wednesday
March 14
Thursday
March 15
Friday
March 16
Saturday
March 17
Sunday
March 18
Monday
March 19

Tuesday
March 20

Wednesday
March 21
Lincoln 56 in 1990 
(53)
54 in 1919 
(59)
57 in 1919 
(52)
57 in 1945 
(53)
50 in 2003
(53)
61 in 1921
(59)
63 in 1921
(58)
53 in 2011
(60)
Peoria 58 in 1990 
(54)
54 in 1919 
(58)
50 in 1936 
(56)
56 in 1894 
(58)
59 in 1903
(57)
61 in 1921
(63)
52 in 1894
(63)
57 in 1894
(66)
Springfield 59 in 1990 
(58)
58 in 1919 
(59)
55 in 1946 
(56)
54 in 1894 
(60)
60 in 1903
(58)
62 in 1921
(66)
57 in 1894
(65)
55 in 2011
(63)


Interesting Stats
  

  • Urbana's record high of 81 on March 14th was the earliest 80+ degree high temperature in a calendar year.
  • Normal's record high of 81 on March 15th was the earliest 80+ degree high temperature in a calendar year.
  • Galesburg's record high of 80 on March 16th was the earliest 80+ degree high temperature in a calendar year.
  • Springfield's record warm low of 66 on March 19th broke the all time March record warm low of 65 on March 30th, 1998.
  • Peoria's record warm low of 66 on March 21st broke the all time March record warm low of 64 on March 30th, 1998.
  • Peoria had six days with 80+ degree high temperatures for the month.  This breaks the old record of five days in 1907 and 1910.
  • Lincoln had six days with 80+ degree high temperatures for the month.  This breaks the old record of four days in 1910.
  • Springfield had 6 days with 80+ degree high temperatures for the month.  This ranks second behind the record of seven days in 1907.
  • Urbana had seven days with 80+ degree high temperatures for the month.  This breaks the old record of four days in 1907.


Temperature Charts

Below are March 2012 temperature charts for Lincoln (KILX), Peoria (KPIA), and Springfield (KSPI).  The observed high and low temperatures are indicated by the tops and bottoms of the vertical blue bars, respectively.  Normal temperature ranges are indicated by the green band.  Record highs are shown on the top of the light pink band, and record lows are indicated along the bottom of the light blue band.  Note how far above normal the blue bars are. 

  

 



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