A Rare Occurrence for the Indianapolis Area

The Indianapolis area will mark a rare occurrence at the close of this month...March 2012 will go down in history as the warmest March of record.  The last time the record warm average temperature for a month was tied occurred when March 1946 equaled the record warm March 1910.  The last time a record warm monthly average temperature was set happened at the close of August 1936 during the Heat Wave of 1936.  The average temperature for March 2012  topped the previous record of 1910 by nearly 5 degrees.

The record warmth of March resulted from an upper level ridge that remained over the Indianapolis area from March 14-22.  June like weather prevailed for more than a week.  Daily temperatures averaged more than 20 degrees above normal.  The 11-day period from March 12-22 was the warmest of any 11-day period so early in the year prior to April 20.

Because of the warm winter and the sudden onset of extended early summer weather, vegetation sprang to life overnight.  Early spring flowers bloomed very quickly and faded in a couple of days.  Tulips, lilacs, flowering bushes and trees were in full bloom during the last week of March.  Many trees were budding including oaks.  Lawn mowers were heard everywhere as grasses literally grew more than 6 inches overnight.  The outdoors was typical of early May rather than late March.

The warm temperatures of March were not confined to the Indianapolis area.  Much of the Midwest and east coast shared in the summer like weather.  To quote what Weather Bureau officials stated in March 1910, "Never since the Weather Bureau was established has there been such an early opening of spring."  Temperatures will remain above normal through Monday in the Indianapolis area, but not nearly as warm as experienced earlier this month.

The U.S. Weather Bureau became the National Weather Service in 1970.  Weather records at Indianapolis began in 1871.

List of Records set at Indianapolis in March:



New Max Temperature Records

New High Minumum Temperature Records

March 14


March 15


March 17


March 18


Tied record, 60

March 19



March 20



March 21




Other records set in March for Indianapolis:

  • Most consecutive days in March with highs 70 or above: 11 
  • Most days in March with highs 70 or above: 14 
  • Most consecutive days in March with highs 80 or above: 5 
  • Most days in March with highs 80 or above: 7 

The all time record high temperature for March is 85 degrees, set on March 31, 1981.  The highest for March 2012 was 84 degrees recorded on the 21st.


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