Got to thinking today about our rather warm and dry month of March thus far. Yes, while the 80 degree heat we experienced last week will be a distant memory for the next several days, who knows what the coming months will bring. I decided to do a little digging into weather records of the past. I wanted to see if there was any direct correlation to an abnormally warm March and the following summer months.
I went digging! First, I checked out just how much above normal the month of March was/is (sure, its not quite done yet...I'll do a final tally after Saturday). Thus far, through March 28th, this March has been the single warmest March on record according to the records from Burlington. The average high temperature data shows this month at an amazing 13.8 degrees above average. The average low temperature has been 12 degrees above average, too. For the sake of this "investigation", I only looked at the daytime highs for now...
The daytime high temperature this March has averaged 53.9 degrees (again, about 13.8 above average to any "typical March"). This tops the list of warmest Marches on record which were previously the years of...
I then checked out the summers that followed these abnormally warm Marches.... Here's what I found. (I noted "much" above/below for average departures of 5 degrees). All of my data was found here, on the Burlington NWS Climate page. Hyperlinks are inserted into the data below...
1894 above below below
1903 much below much below much below
1921 below much above below
1936 below below below
1945 above normal above
1946 above normal below
1973 normal above above
1977 below normal below
1979 normal above below
1995 above(2nd highest) above(5th highest) above(9th highest)
2000 below below(10th lowest) below
2010 below above above
From what I have above, I cant say I see any clear trend... that said, many of the following summer months after a warm March show near normal or even below average summer temperatures. There were, however, several summer months which features above average temperatures. So what can I really conclude? Not much...BUT..... there's always more to dig in to...like global atmospheric patterns.
The Climate Prediction Center periodically releases 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month, and 3 month outlooks. These can be very useful in long range forecasting. Here is what the CPC is forecasting for the next 1 month...the orange colors indicate above average temperatures. This will take over much of the central and eastern US once again, with the exception of New England. Here, we will see "equal chance", which basically means no clear pattern is shown. HHhmmm...sounds similar to my thoughts. Inconclusive?
Meanwhile, the 3 month outlook from the CPC shows above average temperatures continuing across all of the eastern US including New England.
With that, what can I conclude for the summer months ahead? Well, not much :( I know, you're saying, "I read all of that for nothing?" Not exactly. You now know that there is no obvious sign pointing towards an abnormally hot summer ahead. This seems to be the biggest concern I've heard from folks after this mild month. There really isn't much statistical or scientific proof to assume a hot summer based on a warm March. But natural variations in the atmospheric flow can still allow a warm summer to develop. We shall see!