The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: U.S. March Record Scoreboard and Climatological Review
Dear Diary. It’s time once again for our monthly climatological review. Here on this site, we usually present monthly summaries near the 8th of each month, and each is available by clicking the link below:
I’m repeating this mantra every month:
March 2023 using 1901-2000 mean data got ranked by the National Center for Environmental Information for the lower 48 states as 85th warmest, or 45th coldest since records began being kept in 1895:
We saw a very consistent weather pattern during the month as cold wet systems slammed the West and an upper-level ridge warmed the East and South. This pattern was a blessing for the West, producing drought busting rain and snow for most locations, although there was some flooding and cold weather was a nuisance. It was feared that California would see another dry winter due to another La Niña year, but thankfully must long term forecasts for that state were a big bust.
Brief summary for March 2023: Most reports of record warmth came from the East and South throughout the month. Most reports of record chill came from the West during the entire period, which was more intense than the eastern record warmth. There were a notably high number of record low max reports coming from the West.
Here are my two U.S. Daily Record Scoreboards updated through 4/5/2023 (data compiled from the following NCEI site):
DHMX= Daily High Max Reports. DLMN= Daily Low Min Reports. DHMN= Daily High Min Reports. DLMX=Daily Low Max Reports.
Bold red, blue, or purple colored months, such as January 2020 and June 2021, that have ratios of >10 to 1 daily warm low records or <1 to 10 daily warm to low records are either historically hot or cold, most of which have made news. NCEI rankings are for the lower 48 states with the warmest ranking since 1895 of average temperatures being 128 (for ties) or 129 and 1 being the coldest as of 2023. Blue colors represent cold months and red warm. Those months and years with counts close to a 1 to 1 ratio of highs to lows are colored black. All-time record hottest or coldest months and years are boldly colored in purple. NCDC rankings have been color coded (under tabs in each file) such that values of 54 to 74 are black representing neutral months or years (+ or – 10 from the average ranking of 64).
I have come up with new programmed files such that daily record counts for Alaska are subtracted from NCEI values for the United States as a whole. This will enable us to better compare apples to apples values for the lower 48 states and NCEI average temperature rankings for the lower 48 states since 1895. These new files should be better, but they aren’t perfect since Hawaii and other U.S. tallies from all territories are still included in total counts. However, since the bulk of reporting stations outside of the lower 48 do come from Alaska, this is a good first fix. From what I can tell so far, differences between ratios of total U.S. tallies and those minus Alaska are minor.
Record numbers statistically matched up well during March of 2023 with that month being the 45th coldest March on record. In light of how warm the planet has become due to carbon pollution, it’s a little surprising how cold it has been to start out 2023.
March 2023 had approximately a 5 to 13 ratio of record DHMX to DLMN individual record counts, so the color I used for this month was blue on the top chart.
March 2023 had approximately a 11 to 35 ratio of record DHMN to DLMX individual record counts, so the color I used for this month was blue on the bottom chart.
Due to climate change, we are seeing fewer blue colors on these Record Scoreboards with time, but March 2023 bucked that trend.
As stated, the average temperature lower 48 state ranking for March 2023 was 45, which was colored blue since it was below average.
I color rankings of +10 to -10 from the average ranking for the lower 48 states 64 black, indicating that these are near average temperature wise. The top warmest ranking for 2023 would be 129 since rankings began in 1895.
We are seeing that April 2023 has gotten off to the same pattern from March with record warmth being reported in the South and East while record chill continues in the West. A pattern change will warm the Midwest and cool the South, also the West should warm as well.
Here is much more detailed climatology for March 2023 as complied by NOAA:
Assessing the U.S. Climate in March 2023
Storms brought record precipitation and drought relief to parts of the West
Courtesy of Jessica Rex
APRIL 10, 2023
- The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in March 2023 was 40.7°F, which is 0.8°F below average, ranking in the middle third of the record.
- March precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 2.81 inches, 0.30 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the historical record.
- Since January, a series of storms brought record amounts of rain and snow to California, decreasing the drought coverage from 98% on January 3 to 25% on April 4.
- Since October 2022, and the beginning of the western water year, 10 western U.S. counties ranked wettest on record with 60 additional counties experiencing a top-10 wettest event for this six-month period.
- During the first quarter of 2023, January–March, no new billion-dollar weather and climate disasters were confirmed, although several events are being evaluated and will be updated in early May.
- Much of the eastern U.S. had a warm start to 2023. For the January–March period, five states were record warmest with 24 additional states experiencing a top-10 warmest event for this period.According to the April 4 U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 28.2% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought. Moderate to exceptional drought was widespread across much of the Great Plains, with moderate to extreme drought in parts of the Northwest and Florida. Moderate to severe drought was in parts of the northern Rockies, northern Plains, and Southwest with moderate drought in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Generally, temperatures were above average from the southern Plains to New England and in parts of the Great Lakes, with below-average temperatures from the northern Plains to the West Coast. Florida had its eighth-warmest March in the 129-year record. Conversely, Oregon ranked third coldest while California, Nevada, and North Dakota each ranked fifth coldest and Utah had its seventh-coldest March on record.
For the January–March period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 37.4°F, 2.3°F above average, ranking 20th warmest in the 129-year record. Temperatures were above average across much of the eastern U.S. with near- to below-average temperatures from the northern Plains to the West Coast. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida each had their warmest January–March period on record. New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, and Alabama each had their second warmest, while 16 additional states ranked among their warmest 10 year-to-date periods on record.
The Alaska statewide March temperature was 13.3°F, 2.5°F above the long-term average. This March was in the warmest third of the 99-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were above average across the North Slope, in large portions of western Alaska and in parts of the Aluetians. Much of the interior and southern parts of the state were near normal while the Panhandle experienced below-average temperatures for the month.
The Alaska January-March temperature was 10.0°F, 4.1°F above the long-term average, ranking in the warmest third of the record for the state. Above-average temperatures were observed across almost the entire state for this three-month period.
Precipitation was above average across much of the West, from eastern Oklahoma to the Great Lakes and in parts of the northern Plains and Northeast. Precipitation was below average from eastern New Mexico to the central Plains, in the Mid-Atlantic, and in parts of the Northwest, Gulf Coast and Northeast. Utah ranked third wettest, while Nevada and California had their sixth- and seventh-wettest March on record, respectively. On the dry side, Virginia ranked eighth driest while Maryland and Delaware both experienced their 11th-driest March in the 129-year record.
The January–March precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 7.75 inches, 0.79 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the historical record. Precipitation was above average from California to the Upper Midwest, in the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys, and in parts of the Southeast and Northeast. Wisconsin and Utah each ranked third wettest, Nevada ranked eighth wettest, while California, Michigan and Arkansas each ranked 10th wettest for this three-month period. Precipitation was below average across portions of the Northwest, northern and southern Plains, Mid-Atlantic and Florida, and in parts of the Northeast. Maryland and Delaware ranked third and fifth driest on record, respectively.
Monthly precipitation averaged across the state of Alaska was 2.38 inches, ranking near-normal in the 99-year record. Conditions were wetter than average across much of the northern half of the state and in parts of the Aleutians and Panhandle. The southeast Interior and parts of the Southwest and Panhandle were near average while south central Alaska and much of the Panhandle experienced below average precipitation for the month.
The January–March precipitation ranked in the wettest third of the 99-year record for Alaska, with above-average precipitation observed across much of the eastern Interior and in parts of the Panhandle while the North Slope and West Coast were much wetter than average. The central Interior and parts of the Southwest and Southeast were near average while south central Alaska and parts of the Aleutians experienced below-average precipitation during this period.
Other Notable Events
Since October 1, 2022, when the water year begins for most of the West Coast, there have been 31 atmospheric river events—11 weak, 13 moderate, 6 strong and 1 extreme—according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. These events brought heavy rain and snowfall to much of the western U.S.
- According to the California Department of Water Resources, the statewide snowpack is among the deepest ever recorded for the end of March—237% of normal.
- Mammoth Mountain, California, recorded their snowiest season on record with more than 870 inches on the summit.
- The Central Sierra Snow Lab surpassed 700 inches of snowfall for the season—the second-highest total on record since 1951.
- Record snowfall amounts were set at several ski resorts in Utah—Brighton, Solitude and Alta have all reported more than 700 inches of snowfall this season.
- Flagstaff, Arizona, received nearly 160 inches of snow this year—the snowiest winter in more than 40 years.
- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions in the West improved from 73.5% coverage on November 1, 2022, to 30.9% on April 4, 2023.
Several notable weather systems produced severe thunderstorms and a number of tornadoes that impacted portions of the U.S. in March.
- A tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the Ohio River Valley, southern Plains and Southeast on March 1–3. A total of 36 tornadoes, including two EF-2 tornadoes, was confirmed by the National Weather Service.
- On March 16, a rare tornado touched down in Las Pierdas, Puerto Rico, causing damage to a strip mall.
- An EF-1 tornado touched down in the Los Angeles area becoming the strongest tornado to hit the area since 1983 on March 22.
- On March 24–26, a tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the Southeast and caused catastrophic damage in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. A total of 41 tornadoes, including an EF-4 and three EF-3s, was confirmed by the National Weather Service.
- On March 31, nearly 28 million people were under tornado watches as a widespread and deadly tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the Midwest and southern U.S. More than 110 tornadoes, including an EF-4 and eight EF-3s, were confirmed by the National Weather Service—the largest outbreak in a 24-hour period for the month of March.
On March 13–15, the largest winter storm of the season to hit the Northeast brought heavy snowfall over large parts of the Northeast with accumulations up to 40 inches in the higher elevations.
According to the April 4 U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 28.2% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 10.3% from the end of February. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across much of the Mid-Atlantic, Florida Panhandle and Puerto Rico, portions of the southern Plains, and in parts of the Pacific Northwest, central Plains and Hawaii. Drought contracted or was eliminated across large parts of the West, in portions of the northern Plains, and in parts of Michigan and the Southeast.
Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
During the first quarter of 2023, no billion-dollar weather and climate disasters were confirmed, although several events are currently being evaluated.
In early April 2023, NCEI added an additional seven historical weather and climate events which, through inflation and review, surpassed the billion-dollar threshold. The U.S. has now sustained 348 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (based on Consumer Price Index adjustment to 2023). The total cost of these 348 events exceeds $2.510 trillion.
According to the March 31 One-Month Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, areas from the southern Plains to the Northeast and northwestern Alaska favor above-normal monthly mean temperatures in April, with the greatest odds likely to occur along the Gulf Coast states to North Carolina. The best chances for below-normal temperatures are forecast from the West Coast to the Upper Midwest and in parts of southern Alaska. The Northwest and from the southern Plains to Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, as well as parts of northern Alaska, are favored to see above-normal monthly total precipitation. Below-normal precipitation is most likely to occur in the Southwest U.S. and in parts of southwest Alaska. Drought improvement or removal is forecast in portions of the West, Plains and Michigan, while persistence is more likely in portions of the Great Basin, Southwest, Great Plains, Florida and in parts of the Rockies, the Gulf Coast and the Mid-Atlantic. Drought development is likely across parts of the Mid-Atlantic region.
According to the One-Month Outlook issued on April 1 from the National Interagency Fire Center, portions of the Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Alaska have above-normal significant wildland fire potential during April, while portions of the northern Plains and other parts of the Southwest are expected to have below-normal potential for the month.
This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making. For more detailed climate information, check out our comprehensive March 2023 U.S. Climate Report scheduled for release on April 13, 2023.
Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:
Here is some more new March 2023 climatology:
Here is more climate and weather news from Monday.
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
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Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”