NOAA: It Was Hot and Wet with Pockets of Drought
As it does every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hosted a web-based press conference on Thursday to fill reporters in on the nation’s climate and weather over the past month or so, and to look ahead three months with a forecast of what we can expect. You can download a pdf of the visuals yourself, but here are a few highlights:
First, as we’ve already reported, March set the record for the hottest March on record in the lower 48 states. If you rank the warmest states by how far above their 20th century average they rose, March came in second, at 8.6° F (No. 1 was January, 2006, at 8.9° F above average). Twenty-five states had a record warm month, with another 15 in the top 10 historically. Alaska, by contrast, had its 10th coolest March on record.
Like a lot of cities in the U.S., Buffalo had its warmest March on record, enabling people to roller blade along Lake Erie.
March was a bit wetter than average too, but not by much. Even with precipitation well above normal, Texas -- still recovering from a terribly dry summer -- remained in a state of drought. Florida and Georgia were severely dry as well, with pockets of drought reaching all the way into the Northeast. Overall, 37 percent of the U.S. was suffering from drought, and 59.9 percent was abnormally dry.
For farmers, the warm spring has been a mixed blessing. They can get a month’s jump on planting corn, but winter wheat — a perennial — was tricked into sprouting too early, and freezing temperatures last week damaged the crop.
Looking ahead, NOAA forecasters project higher-than-normal temperatures across the South, from Virginia nearly all the way to the California coast, and reaching up into Nevada, Utah and Colorado in the West, and Vermont and New Hampshire in the East. Montana and western North Dakota are likely to be a bit cooler than normal.
As far as precipitation is concerned, the forecasting models can’t say much about most of the country but Idaho, Montana and the Pacific Northwest will probably be a bit wetter than average.