How unusually warm has the March weather been?

What an amazing warm spell! March 14 was the first day of five consecutive days in which record-high temperatures were set in Madison. This matches the longest consecutive-day streak for setting record highs in our city’s history (the other two times were in the 1950s).

Had it not been for the thundershower we received on the morning of March 19, we would certainly have set the all-time record on that day as well. We then went on to shatter the record on March 20 (81 degrees when the record had been 77), followed by another record-setter on March 21 (83 degrees for the warmest March day ever in Madison). All told, seven of eight days on which an all-time record high temperature was set — and it could have been eight straight days

During this streak, Madison also doubled the number of times the temperature has reached 80 degrees or higher in March. Before March 2012, this had happened only five times, never earlier than the 29th of the month. March 2012 has seen five such days all by itself (all in one week!)

This month has also seen the warmest average daily temperature for a March day of all-time (70 degrees on March 17, a figure that comes from the average of the daily high temperature, which was 80 degrees, and the low, which was 60 degrees).

There are those who remain unconvinced of the fact that changes in the atmospheric composition have had a discernible effect on the behavior of the atmosphere and climate systems. Some of these skeptics are major party candidates for the presidency. In the face of this recent, absolutely unprecedented, prolonged extreme weather event it is hard to consider this a reasonable position.

Were there a general suspicion among college basketball experts that the NCAA tournament officiating was not honest, even those resistant to believing this might reconsider their positions if one or two or three No. 1 seeds lost (for the first time in the history of the tournament) in the first weekend. There is a reasonable analogy here to what we have recently experienced in our weather. The room for reasonable skepticism is fast disappearing.

Category: Climate
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