WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

March (not so ) Madness

Posted April 21, 2008 10:27 a.m. EDT

The National Climatic Data Center issued their wrap-up on observed conditions for the month of March across the nation and around the world a few days back, with the contiguous United States showing a rather bland pattern for the month in terms of temperature (first image), which shows near normal temperatures for many climate divisions, a roughly equal number in the above and below normal categories, and only one division each with much above or much below normal temperatures. Meanwhile precipitation was near normal for the Tarheel state as a whole, much below normal across the southwestern U.S. and of course much above normal in a line from about texas to Maine, including record levels across the middle Mississipi Valley where flooding was a major issue.

While temperatures in the U.S. were relatively mild for March, there were quite a few locations worldwide with very warm readings, and the globally averaged land surface temperatures were the warmest on record since the beginning of reasonably reliable records in 1880. The second image above shows temperature anomalies (differences from the 1961-1990 mean) over that time span for land areas, ocean areas, and a combined land/ocean global mean. While ocean temperatures were warm, the presence of a cool La Nina pattern in the Pacific left them farther down the historical list (13th warmest) and left the combined global temperature as the second warmest in the time series, falling a bit shy of the highest combined reading which occured back in 2002.

For lots more detail, maps and graphs, see the report from NCDC at