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The tale of two Marches

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Taken from flood wall submitted by Tammy Durham

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – So many of you have been talking about how tired you are of this prolonged colder weather this March. It’s no wonder, considering last March was Richmond’s second-warmest on record!

But let’s look at the two Marches to date (considering data only through March 18) to see how 2013 really stacks up compared to 2012 so far.


By this time last March, we’d already hit the mid-80s! This month, we’ve only surpassed 70 degrees twice, with our warmest day nowhere near the 80s.

Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. This March has had seven days that did not even get out of the 40s, whereas last March only one day remained in the 40s.


This March has also been wetter than last March to date. Our precipitation this year through the 18th is 4.46″ (2.18″ above average to date for the month). March 2012 by the 18th had only reported 1.07″ of precipitation (1.21″ below average to date for the month).

So your perception that this March is much cooler and wetter than last March is, in fact, reality! And we expect this cooler pattern to continue through the end of the month for central Virginia as a result of a persistent troughing feature over our region. For Richmond, this March is running much cooler than average so far (3.1 degrees below average to date), but is not currently in the running for the top ten coldest Marches on record. The average temperature through March 18 for Richmond is 43.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The average monthly temperature for March is 47.6 degrees Fahrenheit, based on the 1981-2010 average (“normals” are determined using a 30-year time-frame).

NOAA NWS Wakefield


But the overall trend of warming does continue globally.

Just look at data through February 2013, which shows that both the landmasses and the waters are warming above the 20th century average temperature (the baseline you see in the graph below), in particular since the 1980s. On this plot I also included the data showing increasing Carbon Dioxide concentration (as measured from Hawaii) as a result of humans (both resulting from our tremendous population boom and anthropogenic activities).





February 2013 was the 336th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th-century average, according to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate report. The March 2013 report should be released by mid-April so we can put this month in perspective with the global patterns. Current climate science research indicates that the kind of local deviations from the average, like what we’ve experienced this March, will become more common in the future as persistent weather patterns (like the prolonged troughing setting up over our region this March) become more common themselves. Think of the blocking patterns like the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation (both of which, by the way, will likely remain negative through the end of March, potentially even deeper than they have been all Winter).

Climate Prediction Center

Climate Prediction Center

Climate Prediction Center

Climate Prediction Center

CLICK HERE for the US February 2013 report.
Richmond’s February 2013 was near-average, running 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the average temperature for the month.

CLICK HERE to learn more about March 2012’s record warmth.

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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