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Climate: U.S. sees coldest winter since 1985

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In March, record cold readings outnumbered record highs by five to one

A tale of two winters, east and west. Map courtesy NOAA.

A tale of two winters, east and west. Map courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal climate experts this week confirmed what a lot of people already knew instinctively — a long, cold winter stretched well into March in many parts of the country, with the average monthly temperature for the month coming in at 1 degree Fahrenheit below the 20th century average.

Across the country, there were five times as many record cold daily maximum and minimum temperatures (5822) as record warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures (1149) — an anomaly in an era when warm temperature records have consistently outnumbered cold records for months and years at a time.

That made it the coldest March since 2002 and the 43d-coldest on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, with the coldest readings in the Midwest and Northeast, where Vermont reported a record-cold March that inhibited maple syrup production.

Vermont’s average March statewide temperature of 18.3 degrees Fahrenheit was 8.9 degrees below average. The previous coldest March in Vermont occurred in 1916 when the monthly average temperature was 18.6 degrees.

Maine and New Hampshire reported their second coldest March on record, while Michigan and New York reported their fifth coldest March on record. Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Pennsylvania also reported March readings among the 10 coldest on record.

The persistent cold in the Midwest and Northeast kept the average temperature for the 48 contiguous states 0.8 degrees below the 20th century average for the winter — the 41st-coldest January-March period on record, and the coldest winter since 1985.

March snow cover also remained above average in March, according to  NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, with the most snow piled up across the Northern Plains and Rockies, Midwest and Northeast.

It was a different story in the western half of the country, where temps were generally above average for the month, with California recording its ninth warmest March, with a statewide temperature 4.7 degrees above average. No state was record warm for March.

Visit the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for March 2014 for all the details: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2014/3.

 

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3 Responses

  1. This is entirely correct, but for accuracy it would be well to refer to last week’s mapping showing worldwide warmer than normal with only this Rockies-eastward anomaly showing cold. It’s important to look at patterns and totals both. We Americans find it hard to take a world view, but it’s the world that matters in regard to temperature trends.

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