3/21/14

The Warmest March Ever in 2012 is Replaced By the Coldest March Ever (Thus Far) in 2014 - Will it Remain So as Another Arctic Air Mass is On Its Way?

It is always been said Mother Nature has a way of balancing herself out and that certainly can be said of the Marches across Great Lakes the last few years. March of 2012 was obscenely mild across the Great Lakes and Southeast Lower Michigan, read it and weep....

Unprecedented Warm March Blows Several Records Away!

Never in modern climate record keeping had there been a March like this past March for warmth across Southeast Lower Michigan. All three cities (Detroit, Flint and Saginaw) blew away their previous warmest March records by about three degrees! Detroit left it's old record warm March's /1945/ average temperature /47.9/ in the dust by nearly three degrees /+2.8/, while Flint surpassed it's old record March /1945/ temperature /46.0/ by an even wider margin with 3.5 degrees! Saginaw was just a tenth shy of the 3.0 degree exceedance with +2.9 degrees above the old record of 45.1, also in 1945 (see more on March of 1945 from a write up I did back in 1997; including a rather interesting but depressing account of the weather that followed that spring and beyond across the central and northeast portion of the country).

From the climate records at the NWS in White Lake /DTX/:

Top Ten Warmest Marchs


DTW
FNT
MBS
1.    50.7    (2012)
1.    49.5    (2012)
1.    48.0    (2012)
2.    47.9    (1945)
2.    46.0    (1945)
2.    45.1    (1945)
3.    46.1    (1946)
3.    44.6    (1946)
3.    44.0    (1910)
4.    44.0    (2000)
4.    41.4    (1929)
4.    42.0    (1938)
4.    44.0    (1910)
5.    41.3    (2000)
5.    41.9    (1946)
6.    43.3    (1973)
5.    41.3    (1973)
6.    41.4    (2000)
7.    42.5    (1921)
7.    40.8    (1938)
7.    40.7    (1977)
8.    42.4    (2010)
8.    40.4    (1935)
8.    40.6    (1903)
9.    41.6    (1938)
9.    40.1    (1936)
9.    40.5    (1929)
9.    41.6    (1929)
9.    40.1    (1921)
10.   39.4   (2010)


Number of days in which each of the climate site had high temperatures at/or above 60, 70 and 80 degrees in March:

SITE # Days at or Above 60 # Days at or Above 70 # Days at or above 80
DTW 18 11 3
FNT 18 10 4
MBS 17 10 4


Last March /2013/ did do an about face on March of 2012 with colder than normal readings across the region but NOTHING like this March as temperatures just averaged a couple of degrees below normal.

Note where the March temperature places thus far as of the first day of spring and in spite of our "mild spells"recently. I think what is most amazing in the metro Detroit area is that this March's average temperature thus far is about half of what it was two years ago for March. In other words, we had twice the heat in March 2012 than we've had thus far this March! Think that's bad; it gets worse in the Flint and Saginaw areas. If one doubles Flint's March average temperature /22.7/ it still wouldn't be close to the 49.5 reading of two years ago. Same at Saginaw with an average temperature 22.1, doubling that would give a 44.2...a far cry from the 48.0 degrees in 2012! Another mind blowing item is that the range from the record warmest March to this record cold March thus far is 25 degrees at Detroit! Flint is even wider with 28.3 degrees from warmest to coldest while Saginaw is 25.9.  And, excepting for Flint, both Detroit and Saginaw this has happened in the last two Marches!

Top 20 Coldest/Warmest Marches in Southeast Lower Michigan
 
Rank Detroit Area* Flint Bishop** Saginaw Area***
Coldest Warmest Coldest Warmest Coldest Warmest
Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year
1 25.7 25.9 1877 50.7 2012 21.2 1960 49.5 2012 22.1 22.91960 48.0 2012
2 26.2 1960 47.9 194522.7  26.7 1978 46.0 1945 23.8 1912 45.1 1945
326.3 1900 46.1 1946 26.8 1984 44.6 1946 24.5 1900 44.0 1910
4 26.3 1885 44.0 2000 27.1 1965 41.4 1929 24.6 1916 42.0 1938
5 26.4 1912 44.0 1910 27.6 1940 41.3 2000 25.1 1978 41.9 1946
6 28.0 1875 43.3 1973 28.0 1950 41.3 1973 25.7 1926 41.4 2000
7 28.2 1906 42.5 1921 28.0 1947 40.8 1938 26.0 1923 40.7 1977
8 28.5 1895 42.4 2010 28.1 1996 40.4 1935 26.2 1950 40.6 1903
9 28.6 1940 41.6 1938 28.6 1932 40.1 1936 26.5 1965 40.5 1929
10 28.6 1888 41.6 1929 28.8 1926 40.1 1921 26.5 1940 39.4 2010

Yellow Highlight; Rank/Temp thru the March 19th
Red highlight; March 2012 Temp Ave

Of course as stated, this March is not finished, the latter third will raise the mean temperature somewhat as logically just from a climatic stance, the last third of the month is generally the warmest - or will it be? Let's take a look....

Latest trends in all guidance is to bring the yet another unseasonably cold air mass down from the Arctic beginning later this weekend and lasting into at least mid-late week before some moderation. At their coldest; temperatures will range in the 20s to the lower 30s for highs and 5 to 15 for lows...or 15 to 25 degrees again below normal. Average highs across Southeast Lower Michigan are generally approaching 50 by the last week of March while lows fall into the upper 20s to lower 30s. The upper air ensemble mean representing the jet stream by the middle of next week, displays the source of our new air mass well (and not unlike the numerous old ones) - the Arctic. And perhaps the most telling about next weeks cold...those predicted temperatures next week - the first full week of spring - are normals for the coldest of the winter.
 




Note the huge ridge up into the Arctic Circle that is aiding in draining the coldest of air from the North Pole, south across Canada and into the eastern U.S. (displayed by the red arrows on the above map). Also, remember a negative EPO (projected below) encourages ridging and blocking well up into the Arctic around Alaska and western North America. A negative EPO is projected through the end of the month.

 
The anomaly temperatures at 850 MB /5kt/ displayed here in C /Celsius/ for the middle of next week are forecast to be around -15C below the norm.






The map below displays similar Analogue dates & years for the upcoming cold snap at this time of year along with the height departures for above (red) and below (blue) departures. Note late March - early April 1982 one of our season(s) analogues shows up again and is also among them for this time period /19820405, displayed on the lower right/


Try to hang in there because, as evidence by just the past few Marches and springs, this time of year the weather is extremely fickle and changeable. On average, the more typical gradually warming spring weather has been delayed about a  solid month (when looking at the three month meteorological spring /Mar-May/ and not the calendar). And; with the turn of the calendar month comes the promise of warmer weather.

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian

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