Unprecedented “Warm Wave”: Warmest March ever; Warmest month ever vs. average?

+16.3 degrees vs. the 30 year average at MSP Airport in March

Warmest March on record in the Twin Cities and most of the Upper Midwest!

Warmest month ever compared to average in the metro?

(analysis based on 121 years of data from MN Climate Working Group-see below)

13 star mag.jpg

Star Magnolia in bloom in late March near the Weather Lab in Deephaven

Photo by Paul Huttner-MPR News

48.6 degrees – average temp so far at MSP Airport

46.6 degrees average monthly temp for April at MSP Airport

+2.0 degrees March temps running +2 degrees vs. average for April!

“Black flies” reported near Grand Marais in late March!

“June-tastic” weekend 70s and 80s likely this weekend!

13 wxs.png

Source: Twin Cities NWS

“This winter is like a bad boyfriend. They never come around when you want them, and just when you’re done with them they show up unexpectedly.”

-Jessa Frost from the North House Folk School in Grand Marais commenting on this winter up north. (Some freezing drizzle and temps in the 30s Friday in Grand Marais)

13 bloodroot.jpg

Photo Credit: MN Climate Working Group

A March to remember:

This has truly been a “once in a lifetime” March in Minnesota. The last time Minnesota saw anything even close to this warm in March was in 1910, which will cling to the title of the warmest March on record until midnight Sunday.

Here are some (more) amazing numbers for March 2012:

(Courtesy Twin Cities NWS)

Interesting statistics for the Twin Cities:

•As of March 28th, the maximum temperature in the Twin Cities has reached or exceeded 70 degrees on 8 days, breaking the all time March record of 5 days set in 1910.

•The Twin Cities maximum temperature reached or exceeded 70 degrees for four consecutive days (March 16-19), breaking the previous record of three consecutive days which occurred on March 23-25, 1939 and March 22-24, 1945.

•When the Twin Cities temperature reached 80 degrees on March 17, it was the first 80 degree temperature since October 9, 2011. The span without 80 degree temperatures was 159 days, the fewest consecutive number of days without 80 degrees in the modern record.

•March 23 2011 through March 22 2012 was the warmest 365 day period on record, back to 1871, with an average temperature of 50.5 degrees.

•Temperatures in the Twin Cities stayed above the average high temperature for an incredible 13 days in a row, from March 13th through March 25th.

-The high of 80 degrees on March 17th is the earliest 80 degree temperature on record for the Twin Cities. The previous record for the first 80+ degree temperature of the year was March 23rd, set in 1910.

-The new maximum low temperature of 61 degrees, recorded on March 18th and 19th, is also the highest low temperature on record during the month of March in the Twin Cities. The previous record was 59 degrees set on March 17, 2012. The long standing record, prior to this year was 57 degrees set on March 27th and 29th 1910.


Warmest month compared to average ever on record in the metro?

One measure that may set March 2012 apart from all other months in the Twin Cities weather history is that this may be the warmest month ever recorded compared to average in terms of the raw number of degrees above average.

When you look at the raw data over the past 121 years from the MN Climate Working Group, the thing that jumps out is that January 2006 (+15.1 degrees) was the furthest above the 121 year average for any of the 12 monthly records.

Through March 29th, the 48.6 degree monthly average temp at MSP Airport is running +18.1 degrees vs. the 121 year running March average of 30.5 degrees.

(Data from the MN Climate Working Group)

We still have to get Friday & Saturday’s final numbers in the book, but it looks like this will smash the previous March record by over 3 degrees…and probably be the warmest month ever compared to average in the metro!

The MN Climate Group and Twin Cities NWS will be crunching the numbers early next week, and they are pro’s at reading this stuff, which is way more complicated than it looks at first glance. Let’s see just where we end up.

Whatever the final numbers, we’ve all just witnessed a truly astounding and unprecedented month in Minnesota weather history!

Not just Minnesota: Warm Midwest & Canada too!

“This “warm wave,” which is just now beginning to wind down, is exceptional in many ways. It’s been long lasting, widespread, and extreme–that is, extreme in terms of how far it’s strayed from seasonal norms.”

Bob Henson-UCAR/NCAR Atmos News

Check out this great post from UCAR/NCAR on just how widespread and extreme this month has been.

13 march dep.PNG

Records galore:

The sheer number and scope of warm temperature records this month is nothing short of stunning. If I would have forecast this on March 1st, you would be excused of wanting me removed for “meteorological malpractice.”

Weather truth really is stranger than fiction lately. The data from NOAA’s NCDC.

13 ncdc.PNG


13 daffs.jpg

March daffodils

Photo by Paul Huttner-MPR News

Weird March phenology: Black flies in March?

You only need to look in the yard to see that the things budding, blooming and shooting up from the ground are way out of season. But this one stunned me a bit.

Anyone who has gone camping up north or on a BWCAW trip around Memorial Day weekend knows about black flies. That last week of May, or the first week of June the little buggers will attack. The “no-see-ums” strike quickly and quietly, and can dig a mini trench that will leave you bleeding. It’s not a fun place to be.

But that’s late May right? Not this year.

I spoke with Jess Frost from the North House Folk School in Grand Marais Friday. She says there are reports of black flies in northeast Minnesota….in late March!

13 mn tmps.png

Source: NWS

“June-tastic” weekend:

The sun returns to Minnesota this weekend.

Warm southerly breezes will blow in milder air.

Highs should reach the 60s in all of northern Minnesota this weekend, except along the North Shore where Lake Superior will cool temps to the 40s.

In southern Minnesota, 70s will be the rule on Saturday. By Sunday..the infamous “thermal ridge” will set up right over Minnesota.

If you look at 850 millibar temps (5k feet up) by Sunday afternoon, we have the potential to see some 80-85 degree temps in southern Minnesota and the metro Sunday PM. It would not shock me to see the 1st 90 of the year in Luverne or Pipestone Sunday!

Time to get the boat in?

Enjoy the warm weekend!


  • Chris

    So where is the update on this forecast, it is after 2pm and still in the 40s, is the high for the day going to be at midnight?

  • Chad

    I know weather is a capricious phenomenon to predict, but how can a forecast be off by 20+ degrees? So far our high hasn’t even surpassed our forecasted low. What threw everyone off?

  • Steven

    Ha ha, it did seem like a spectacularly “off” forecast, but I was happy that I didn’t miss the wonderful day that was forecast, as I was inside in an all day meeting today. I am interested in what happened too? Snow forecasts I understand to be very difficult but it seems we are in a rather calm weather pattern. Did the system leaving just slow down more than expected?

    Wonderful blog, I check every day and have for some time, and will never envy weather forecasters!

  • Michael Gardos Reid

    We need a soundbite way to describe the shifted weather patterns; something that calmly reminds us each time we discuss “the weather” that we are jointly in the path of profound changes that we can try to ward off, adjust to or ignore but that we cannot simply call it “beautiful weather”.

    Maybe we could call it “scareutiful weather” to acknowledge that shifted weather patterns can be enjoyable and awakening at the same time. Let’s have a weather description brainstorm.

    Meanwhile, like an alcoholic’s first step of recovery, this page of recent weather inventory, looking at “what is”, could be seen as a kind first step toward a sober response to this major challenge we are facing.


    Michael Gardos Reid