2012 Obliterating US Heat Records

March, in particular, was unseasonably warm

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 9, 2012 7:32 AM CDT | Updated Apr 14, 2012 11:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you found yourself thinking last month, "Wow, it's awfully hot for March," you weren't wrong. Temperatures were 8.6 degrees higher than normal last month in the contiguous US, and 6 degrees above average for January, February, and March, the AP reports. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's calculations, that's much higher than past temperature records. Why? Weather patterns including La Nina have come together in unusual ways, meteorologists say, and many are concerned climate change is a factor.

Sure, it's nice to go to the beach in March, but "everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good," says one climate scientist. Among the "weird" stats:

  • The average temperature in March was 51.1 degrees this year, when it's normally 42.5 degrees.
  • Records are usually broken by a tenth or two of a degree; 2012 busted the January-March record by 1.4 degrees.
  • At least 7,775 weather stations broke daily high records in March.
  • International Falls, Minn., (aka the "icebox of America") saw temperatures in the 70s for five days in March; there were only three days below zero all month.
  • The warmer-than-usual temperatures go all the way back to the summer of 2011.
  • Interestingly, however, this winter's strange warmth has been mostly limited to North America.

In this March 15, 2012, file photo people enjoy the warm weather near the Washington National Monument in Washington.
In this March 15, 2012, file photo people enjoy the warm weather near the Washington National Monument in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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