Last month was the warmest March since 1950 based on natural gas-weighted heating degree days (GWHDD), with decades-old temperature records falling in cities across the United States, weather analysts said Monday.
“With a monthly total of 387.02 [GWHDD], it shattered the previous record of 525.09 from 2007, averaging 38% less than the 30-year normal (625.98) and 37.5% less than the 10-year normal (619.90),” MDA EarthSat said.
Temperatures more typical of late spring or early summer broke records in Chicago, where the average temperature was 53.5 degrees, 15.5 degrees above normal and 4.9 degrees warmer than any other March on record. Records were also shattered in Minneapolis (average 48.3 degrees, 15.5 degrees above normal); Indianapolis (56.6 degrees, 14.3 above normal); Milwaukee (48.8 degrees, 13.7 degrees above normal); and Detroit (50.7 degrees, 13.4 degrees above normal).
It was the warmest March ever in cities across the country, according to AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. Records for average temperatures were set from Portland, ME (41.2 degrees), to Tampa, FL (74.4 degrees), and from Washington, DC (56.8 degrees), to Burlington, CO (49.5 degrees).
“Never before in dozens of cities where long-standing records are kept have March temperatures averaged as warm as they did this past month,” Pydynowski said.
MDA EarthSat said it doesn’t expect the relative warmth to continue in April.
“Changes currently seen in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans are suggesting the warm-dominated pattern that has been across much of the eastern U.S. these past few weeks will weaken and shift westwards,” said MDA EarthSat energy manager Travis Hartman. “This shift in the circulations over North America and the northern hemisphere as a whole will bring much more seasonal temperatures to the eastern parts of the U.S., while also bringing some mild conditions to parts of the West.”
Andover, MA-based Weather Services International recently said it expects April temperatures to average warmer than normal in the Northeast, North Central, South Central and Southwest (except coastal Southern California), with cooler-than-normal temperatures dominating in the Southeast and Northwest (see Daily GPI, March 20).
Working gas inventories continue to set new seasonal record highs due to unusually warm winter, with a total of 2,513 Bcf in storage at the end of February, 756 Bcf greater than last year’s level, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook for March (see Daily GPI, March 7). EIA last week reported a storage increase of 57 Bcf, well ahead of historical levels and greater than most market analysts had forecast (see Daily GPI, March 30).
Mild temperatures have dominated much of the country this winter, including the fourth-warmest January on record for the contiguous United States, according to AccuWeather.com (see Daily GPI, Feb. 13).
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