Very Warm March...Are We Done with Wintry Weather?

 

Very Warm March...Are We Done with Wintry Weather?

 

In recent days at Topeka, much above normal temperatures have been common.  Record high values of both high temperatures and low temperatures have been set on multiple days.  Specifically, record high temperatures were set on March 14 with 84 degrees and March 16 with 81 degrees.  Record warm low temperatures were set on March 14, 16, 17, and 18 with 63, 60, 64, and 69 degrees, respectively.  The low temperature of 69 degrees was the warmest March low temperature on record.  Weather records for Topeka date back to the summer of 1887. 

As of March 19, there have been 11 days this month with high temperatures over 70 degrees.  Based on historical data, the average number of such days that usually occur in March is just over four.  For this March, there have been eight consecutive days with highs over 70.

Low temperatures above 55 degrees have also been much more common than normal for March.  This March has included seven days with these warm temperatures, including six days in a row.  On average, low temperatures greater than 55 degrees occur on less than one day in March.  Plant life has responded to these warm temperatures with leaves emerging on many trees, flowers blooming, and grasses greening up. 

After the somewhat cooler and wet pattern ends late this week, a return to above normal temperatures is forecast for the end of the month.  This graphic is produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.ncdc.ncep.noaa.gov ) .

 


Very warm March temperatures also occurred in 2007. In that month, there were 12 days with highs over 70 degrees, which tied for the second most on record (including six in a row), and eight days with lows over 55, which is the most on record.  The warmth ended in early April as low temperatures dropped to below 30 degrees on six consecutive days.  Plants suffered as they reacted to the March warmth and then dealt with the consistent nighttime freezes.  More information on this event can be found at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/special-reports/2007-apr-cold-event.html .

There are two other years on record with similar March temperatures that are noteworthy.  The highest frequency of days with highs over 70 in March is 1910 with 17, including 11 such days in row.  Lows above 55 were also rather frequent, with seven such days occurring, trailing only 2007.  Although freezing temperatures were not measured in April or May of that year, light snow fell on four days in April and the mercury reached 33 degrees on four days, the latest day for both occurring on April 24.  In March 1907, there were nine consecutive March days with highs over 70 (the most consecutive on record) and a total of 10 such days.  There were also five days with lows above 55 degrees, which was the third highest number for March.   The following May, the latest snowfall of at least an inch on record fell, with 3.2 inches falling on May 3, and temperatures fell to the freezing point on May 15.

The outlook for April is for better than equal chances for tempeatures to be above normal for the area (see below), but this will not rule out the possibility of at least brief cold spells, as seen in other years with warm Marches.

 



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