March was hottest on record

April 01, 2012 at 09:48 PM

As it turns out, there’s good reason why you can’t remember March ever being this warm – because it never has been.

Weather experts say last month was the warmest March on record for both Springfield and the rest of Illinois

According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature in March at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport was 57.3 degrees, easily eclipsing the previous record of 54.6 degrees, set in 1946. March featured six days with highs of 80 degrees or more, which is one less day than the record of seven days set in 1907.

In Lincoln, the average temperature was 55 degrees. The previous record for March was 52.6 degrees in 1946.

Statewide, weather experts say the average temperature was 54.7 degrees, more than three degrees higher than the last record of 51.6 degrees from 1946.

“It’s pretty unusual to set a record and to beat it by more than a tenth degree,” said Chuck Schaffer, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Lincoln.

As for why it feels like summer in March, Schaffer said global warming does not appear to be the cause.

While most people in the Midwest wore sandals and shorts throughout March, people in Europe and central Asia donned winter jackets all last month because it stayed in the 20s and 30s there.

Why the significant difference?

Schaffer said the jet stream this year stayed north in Canada and then dipped on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He also said a large area of high pressure stayed in the Midwest, which allowed more sunny days than normal.

The high pressure was the result of southwest winds bringing air masses to the Midwest that would ordinarily stay around Arizona and Texas, he said.

The good news, most would agree, is that the warm temperatures should stick around.

The first day of April set the tone, with a high temperature of 88 degrees, breaking the 1946 record of 87 degrees.

Schaffer said long-term forecasts suggest above-normal temperatures should continue through April. However, he said it is too early to say if warm temperatures now will translate into a hotter-than-normal summer.

“There is no correlation with early and warm spring to warm summer,” he said. “At this point, the long-range forecast to summer does not make us lean one way or the other.”

Jason Nevel can be reached at 788-1521.

10 warmest Marches on record in Springfield

2012: 57.3

1946: 54.6              

1910: 52.9              

1945: 52.3              

1938: 50.5

1921: 49.6

1907: 49.1              

1918: 48.9              

1973: 48.3              

1977: 47.6