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March Heat Closes In

Matt Ross @ 1:00 AM


Today will be partly sunny and breezy with brisk northerly winds in the wake of a departing low pressure system well offshore. High temperatures will reach the mid to upper 40s. We will see a measurable warming trend through the rest of the week. Temperatures by this weekend have a chance to be well above the 70 degree mark. The National Weather Service mentioned in their discussion yesterday that if and when it does occur, it will be the 1st 70 degree day since November 16th. However, I don't think Spring is here just yet. Expect another stretch of cooler than normal conditions during the latter half of March.

March Heat Waves

Since we have a very good chance of surpassing the 70 degree mark several times this weekend into next week, it is a appropriate time to look at past March heat waves. There are 4 that stand above the others, 1907, 1921, 1945, and 1990. Looking at the average for 1907, one wouldn't think much. It finished just a couple degrees above normal, and had over 6" of snowfall. Yet, the end of the month featured a heat wave yet to be matched almost 100 years later. March 22-24 saw the mercury hit 90, 93, and 85 degres respectively. Then March 29th capped the month off with a 92 degree reading. The 93 degrees on March 23rd is our highest March reading in recorded history, and the three 90 degree readings that month are likely the only official 90 degree readings in March history. Given the gradual warming of the atmosphere and heat island effect of the city, this feat is quite remarkable. Almost just as remarkable, the April that followed was not only colder than March, but is also the coldest in the last 130 years. It also featured over an inch of snow.

March 1921, while not matching the extremes of 1907, is tied for the warmest March on record with 1945. No other Marches are even within 2 degrees of these giants. 1921 featured 3 record highs toward the end of the month, peaking with a high of 89 on the 21st. 1945 has the most record highs that month of any year with 5. The March 16th-20th period saw the thermometer well into the mid 80s 4 times, and then on the 28th, it hit 84 degrees for a 5th record high. Unlike 1907, the heat lasted into April in both years and neither year saw measurable snow in the March/April period.

March 1990 is our most recent March heat wave and one that many of us fondly(or not) remember. After a near record cold December the heat came and never left the rest of winter. In an otherwise cool month, the March 9th-19th period featured a heat wave, which peaked in the March 12th-16th period. During this 5 day period, the temperature exceeded 80 degrees each day and 4 record highs were set including 89 degrees on the 12th. Similar to the granddaddy, 1907, after this heat wave it got much cooler with several small snow events, including one in early April. Keep this in mind as we shoot for the 80 degree mark this weekend. It might just be a teaser.

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball

Pictured Above Right: Looking East Down the Mall on a Windy Sunday Afternoon, Courtesy of Photographer, Ian Livingston.

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