Mark Johnson: Warm March weather does not mean April and May will be warm

CLEVELAND - I miss those warm, sultry March afternoons of a few weeks ago. Hanging out on my deck, sipping something cold and enjoying those 80 plus degree temperatures. They are gone now. And many readers and viewers want to know if they will return soon.

In fact, the question I have been asked the most often these last two weeks was "Does the warm March weather mean that the rest of spring will be warm as well?"

That is a great question! Record warm temperatures have happened before in March. In fact, 1910 saw high temperatures climb into the upper 80s for many Northern Ohioans (See photo of Oberlin Ohio temperatures since 1890).

There have been other years of extreme March warmth. We can easily look back on record warm Marches for Northern Ohio and then see what kind of weather occurred  the following months. To do this, I took the top 10 warmest March months in Cleveland (not including 2012).

Top 10 Warmest March months for Cleveland, Ohio:
1. 49.5 in 1946
2. 48.6 in 1945
3. 46.5 in 1973
4. 45.6 in 1921
5. 45.6 in 1976
6. 44.6 in 1910
7. 43.6 in 1938
8. 43.6 in 1929
9. 43.6 in 1903
10. 43.2 in 2000

Next, out of those ten, you find the years that had similar winter weather conditions and ocean patterns to 2012. So, we look for other years with La Nina conditions (cooler than normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean), positive winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) conditions, a negative value to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and a positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) . You can read about these important patterns by clicking on the links provided. 

That narrows it down to five of the ten years with similar winter conditions to winter 2012. The years are 1910, 1945, 1946, 1976, & 2000.

Now, take those warm March years and look at the following April and May of each of those years.

What we find is: 4 out of 5 of those years cooler than normal temperatures during the April & Mays that followed. The exception was the year 2000. That spring saw above normal temperatures from March through May. The other 4 years had very warm March months and then cooler than normal temperatures in April and May!

Look at the graphic provided above. Notice the average temperatures for April & May of all of those years combined. Notice the cool blue colors over Ohio. Temperatures averaged anywhere from .5 degreesF to 2 degreesF below normal following the big March warm-up! That means our chances are low that we will see our extreme warm weather continue through the rest of spring this year.  Don't put away the coats just yet!

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