WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Record warm March, and drought backs off a bit

Posted April 3, 2012 10:38 a.m. EDT

Mean temperature in March for the 5 warmest Marches on record (out of 68 total) for the Raleigh-Durham airport.

Some of you may have been following the "contest" between March 2012 and March 1945 for the rank of warmest on record for the Raleigh-Durham airport, where we now have 68 years of data to look over. Now that we've finished the month, the race is over and the month just ended took over the top spot, edging out the final March of WW II by three-tenths of a degree. As you'll see in the attached image, those two months stood well above their closest competitors in 1946 and 1976. As a point of comparison, the average March temperature using all of the 68 years on file is 50.5 degrees F, making the 60.4 from this year and the 60.1 from 1945 stand out as really warm.

The other image I included here is the most recent drought map for NC, which shows the "moderate drought" area, in beige, receded a little to the southwest in the wake of several rounds of showers. As we head into the late spring and summer, we'll hope to see enough rain to keep an expansion of moderate, or development of severe, drought at bay. So far, large scale climate patterns aren't strongly suggestive either way, and the Climate Prediction Center has out area in an "Equal Chance" category for rainfall being above, near or below normal. They do show us with a good chance of having above normal summer temperatures, though, which can enhance dry conditions somewhat by way of evaporation even if rainfall is pretty typical.