Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trying to Put March "Heat" In Perspective

Trying to put this "Summer in March" pattern into some sort of perspective is extremely difficult. While it has maybe (to some extent) underachieved in the Delaware Valley (70s interspersed with marine layer issues), it has been anything but an underachiever in the Midwest.

Here's every Chicago warm temperature record set during this spell. Worth noting however is that Chicago still has not broken (and probably will not break) their all-time March high temperature of 88 degrees set back in 1986. But just about any other temperature record you can think of has probably bitten the dust in the last week or so.

Unofficial Record Highs and Lows Set Today. Credit:
How many high temperature records have been set over the last week or so? 835. We should add at least another 100 to this today.

Just as a minor example of how long-lasting and insane this has been: I believe the all-time March record high in Traverse City, MI was 79 degrees prior to this month. Last Wednesday, they broke that record by hitting 81 degrees. They broke it again Saturday when they hit 82 degrees. They tied it again Sunday. Monday brought 83 degrees for the new record. Yesterday they smashed it by hitting 86 degrees. And thus far today, their high will be at least 87 degrees...the new March record. More details on the warmth and more records in Northern Michigan can be found here

Lake Michigan Actual Temperature vs. Average
(credit: NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI)
And it's not just air temperatures. Lake Michigan is likely sitting at the warmest level they've ever been for the month of March. To the right is the chart from that NWS Milwaukee link showing that how the observed lake temperatures compare to the average lake temperatures. It's almost off the charts relative to where it should be.

While this is truly remarkable,  just remember, this doesn't necessarily mean we're in store for a historically awful summer. It's difficult to correlate much of anything in summer to strictly March-type patterns. That's not to say it can't or won't be hot this summer...but it won't be because March is so warm.

Oh, and while we've been discussing the heat and torch, 8 feet of snow fell on Squaw Valley!