Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Like Weird Weather? This March Has Been Your Month

Wildfire near Woodward, Oklahoma
Monday after record heat, gusty winds
and very dry conditions.  
I swear we've packed a year or two worth of weather extremes into one simple little month, March 2015, and we've still got a couple weeks to go.

Between record cold, flooding, ice, snow records, punishing drought and especially an amazing expanse of record March heat in the nation, this is really making me want to say, "Mother Nature, you're drunk. Go home."

I told you about the record heat over the weekend in the Great Plains. Monday the central Plains really got into some incredible hot weather for this time of year.

Temperatures soared into the 90s as far north as Kansas and southern Nebraska, the furthest north I've seen such temperatures so early in the season. Some of these areas had their hottest temperatures on record for the entire month of March.

It was an incredible 94 degrees in Hill City, Kansas, and 93 in McCook, Nebraska, which are pretty typical readings in those towns for mid-July.

North Platte, Nebraska had an all time March record high of 91 degrees, breaking the old all time high for the month of 88 degrees.

This is the first time it's been known to reach 90 degrees in Iowa and Nebraska before the spring equinox. (Sioux City, Iowa reached 90 degrees on Monday.)

A day earlier, on Sunday, Fargo, North Dakota had its highest temperature for so early in the season with a reading of 75 degrees. Grand Forks, in the same state, also set a so early in the season record of 70 degrees. Average high temperatures in eastern North Dakota this time of year are in the mid-30s.

Also on Sunday, Rapid City, South Dakota reached the highest temperature on record for the month of March, with 84 degrees.

It was "colder" in North Dakota on Monday with highs in the upper 40s, still well above normal.

On Sunday, several West Coast cities also experienced their all time hottest temperatures for the entire month of March. Those included 92 degrees in Salinas, California, 91 in Fresno, California, and 89 in San Jose, notes Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground. 

Masters noted that downtown Los Angeles experienced four days in a row of 90 degree temperatures. This is the first March dating back to at least 1877 that L.A. has had four 90 degree days in March, consecutive or otherwise, Masters said.

After it experienced the snowiest February on record, Denver, Colorado on Mondayset a record for the earliest in the season the temperature has gotten above 80 degrees.

All this heat led to a variety of problems. Last evening a wildfire that had expanded to more than 9,300 acres forced evacuations near Woodward, Oklahoma, television station KOCO reported. 

Flooding along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, via
A Guy and His Drone, Facebook. 
In the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in California, they were expected one of the best poppy blooms in recent memory, but the heat was so strong most of them wilted and died. Poppy plants can withstand heat, but this was too much.

Meanwhile, the Ohio River continued to run above flood stage after an abrupt snow melt and heavy rain last week, the Cincinnati Inquirer reported. The Red Cross had to open shelters for some families who were flooded out.  

Winter, of course, is still  hanging on in New England, particularly in Maine, which is just having the toughest time. Today, yet another winter storm warning is in effect for the snowbound eastern part of the state for another six to 10 inches of snow.

Bangor, Maine, which has already by far set the record for the snowiest winter on record with 130.7 inches, is expecting another two to five inches of fresh powder today.

It was even worse in parts of southeastern Canada. The storm that clobbered Maine Sunday was even worse in Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown, P.E.I. got 21 inches or so of snow Sunday and Monday, bringing the snowfall for the season to 182 inches (463 cm.) That beats the old seasonal winter snowfall record of 177 inches (451 cm) set just last year.

St. John, New Brunswick also set its winter snowfall record by Monday with a total so far of 170 inches, besting 167 inches in 1962-63.

A new storm in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick is expected to dump an additional eight inches or so of snow by tomorrow night.

By tomorrow, all of New England will be colder than the normal temperatures in the depths of winter in January. Some towns in northern New England won't make it out of the teens Wednesday afternoon.

Another shot of frigid air is expected to blast into New England Sunday. Temperatures then could easily be the most below normal of any place in the Northern Hemisphere.

It seems like the weather might become a bit less extreme in the United States as we head into the second half of the month, but I'm sure there will be some pretty big surprises, given how things have been going.

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