(April 5, 2012) - From the Southern Plains to the Mid-South to the Heart of Dixie to the Gulf Coast, March of 2012 will be remembered as one of the hottest on record in the National Weather Service's Southern Region. The primary cause of the record warmth was a strong upper level ridge of high pressure that parked itself east of the Continental Divide, preventing cold fronts from pushing into the region from Canada or the Western United States.
Preliminary reports indicate numerous southern cities saw record warm temperatures for the month, with average temperatures running as much as 10 to 12 degrees above normal for the entire month.
"Some of these cities recorded the warmest average March temperatures in well over 100 years", said Victor Murphy, climate service program manager for the NWS Southern Region.
As warm as the record high temperatures were in the south, they were overshadowed by those affecting the Central United States, Northern Plains and the Great Lakes region. Many locations in those regions saw monthly average temperatures in excess of 16 degrees above normal.
When the NOAA National Climatic Data Center releases official March temperature measurements on April 9, it is likely a number of states east of the Continental Divide will have seen their warmest March on record. It's also possible the current March record of 50.6 degrees, set in 1910 for the Continental United States, may also be exceeded. Data record-keeping for these events began in 1895.
The latest, long term NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecast for the United States shows little change in April, with increased chances for above normal temperatures east of the Continental Divide and increased chances for below normal temperatures along the Pacific Coast.
Does this warm March of 2012 portend increased chances for warmth in the Southern United States for the rest of the summer? "The connection between spring and summer temperature anomalies is generally not that strong", noted NOAA Southern Region Climate Services Director Dr. David Brown.
While the CPC long lead outlook for the June/July/August time frame shows increased chances for above normal temperatures, the probability of topping the record setting summer temperatures of 2011 across New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana -- are remote.
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