Here it is:
This is a still frame from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's YouTube video for cities/towns breaking/tying record temperatures. Each dot on the map represents a new or tied record high (daytime temperature) and also record low (warmest nighttime temperature) set in March 2012.
The entire video is only twenty seconds long and can be found here, so it won't take much of your time if you'd like to watch!
Even our small states of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire (relative to the rest of those big Midwest states) contributed to this! In Burlington the temperature soared to 80° the earliest in any calendar year on record, the same happening in St. Johnsbury just a day or two later. The average temperature, low temperature, and high temperature observed at the Burlington International Airport all broke records for the month of March as well.
Noting the image above, the 15,000 records broken or tied during March were pretty evenly split. Daytime records consisted of 7,755 across the eastern two-thirds of the country, while 7,517 records were tied or broken at night. The 31-day spread happened mostly in the eastern and central parts of the United States, while the west coast remained wetter and cooler.
The 15,000 records in March were also enough to put the U.S. in its warmest "first-quarter" of any calendar year. Meaning the warmest Jan-Feb-Mar combination since records have been kept, which date back to the 1800's. Impressive? How about this: March 2012 was 8.6° F warmer than average for the entire U.S. That's intense! But note, it beat out the previous March warmth record set in 1910 by 0.5°F. So while some point to temperatures rising and rising and rising, I point to this 1910 and say that this was a hundred years ago, seeing temperatures of similar numbers. The sample size is so small though, with records dating to the 1800's. Trends are nice and can be found easily, but I believe the pattern of temperatures and weather stretches much farther considering how old this earth is.
Does this mean global warming? No. You have to look at the big picture. Let me throw some numbers at you before going further. The latest analysis globally has not been released yet (as I write this blog) but here's the one from February 2012.
I know the font will be hard to read, but note that the U.S. was one of the warmest (departure from average) places on the globe in February. I'm interested to see what March looks like, because the lower 48 has been in a weather pattern that has allowed for incredibly warm air this winter and early spring. The rest of the world has either been around average or much colder across Europe and Russia. While I don't think it will be as drastic, this warmer-than-average weather will likely remain true for the continental U.S. through early summer. However I am not a seasonal forecaster, that's just my opinion!
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier