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U.S. Averaged Warmer than Normal Temperatures in March

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NOAA’s State of the Climate report shows the March 2010 average temperature for the entire contiguous United States was warmer-than-average with several New England states experiencing one of the warmest March’s on record. Average precipitation for the U.S. was below normal, but heavy rainfall set March records in parts of the Northeast.

Based on data going back to 1895, the monthly analyses prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., are part of the suite of NOAA climate services.

U.S. Temperature Highlights

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High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

  • Overall, the March temperature averaged across the contiguous United States was 44.4 degrees F, which is 1.9 degrees F above the long-term average. However, several storms developed along the Atlantic Coast, bringing below-normal temperatures to the South and Southeast, while bringing warm and wet weather to the Northeast and Midwest regions (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin).
  • Thirteen states had an average temperature that ranked among their 10 warmest for March, including Rhode Island, which had its warmest March on record; Maine its second warmest; and New Hampshire its third warmest.
  • Cooler-than-normal temperatures prevailed across the Gulf Coast states, New Mexico, Georgia and South Carolina. Florida had its fourth coolest March on record.
  • It was the warmest January-March period for Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. By contrast, the three-month stretch was the coldest ever for Florida, the second coldest for Louisiana, and the third coldest for Mississippi and Alabama.

U.S. Precipitation Highlights

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High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

  • March precipitation, averaged across the contiguous United States, was below the long-term mean. Last month’s national average was 2.16 inches, 0.24 inch below average. The Northeast was above-normal, while much of the interior United States was below-normal. All other regions were near normal.
  • It was the wettest January – March period on record for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey.  Delaware and Vermont had their second and fifth wettest March on record, respectively. Twenty other states had precipitation rankings in the top 10.
  • By contrast, Michigan had its driest January-March period, while Wisconsin had its fourth driest and Montana and Wyoming their sixth driest.

Other Highlights

  • According to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, the preliminary tornado count for March was 36 – a tie for 4th quietest March since reliable records began in 1950.
  • According to the Canadian Ice Service, mid-March ice coverage over the Great Lakes was at a record low - only 3.5 percent of the Lakes’ surface. The average ice extent for the period is roughly 31 percent of the Lakes’ surface. The record dates back to 1973.
  • Drought coverage remained small throughout the month. On March 30, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 9.0 percent of the United States was affected by drought.

NCDC’s preliminary reports, which assess the current state of the climate, are released soon after the end of each month. These analyses are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.


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