March 2014 is starting extremely cold. Through yesterday, the mean temperature was just above zero, or about 19 degrees below average. It is beginning to warm up, though it looks like anything but a warm third month.
Most recently, Marches in 1995, 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2010 all had warm weather and record highs. Of course, the stand-out warm March was just two years ago. March 2012 was far and away the warmest in the modern record (Image 1 above). The pattern flipped to mild just after a snowy cold start to the month and by mid-month, Upper Michigan had a taste of summer. From St. Patty??s day through the next four days, temperatures hit the 70s and 80s across Upper Michigan. Never has it been so warm so early in the season. The month ended with a mean temperature of 39.7, an incredible 15.5 degrees above average.
Just two years earlier in March 2010 came in as the warmest third up to that point. The mean temperature at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee was 34.7??10.1 degrees above the long-term average. A 38-inch snow cover at the NWS disappeared except for a few crusty, dirty piles by the end of the month.
Warm Marches aren??t something new to Upper Michigan, either. To look back, we examine Ironwood??s records. Weather observations have been kept in roughly the same location since the turn of the 20th century. The year that stands out the most since then is 1910. There are still six daily records that standing from that exceptionally warm March including three consecutive 70-degree days from March 23-25. However, the warmest March day on the Gogebic Range was 79 degrees on the 28th during another fast start to spring in 1946.
Without question, the warmest third month since records started in the U.P. was in 1878. It even beat out March 2012 (though the observation location was in town and not up the hill in Negaunee Township) with a mean of 40.3 degrees. This followed a February that was almost 17 degrees above normal! That year, the ??swamp frogs?? or peepers were heard around Ishpeming before St. Patrick??s Day. That??s more than a month early! The peepers came out about the same time two years ago during that spectacular heat wave.
Our current warm spell will continue into Friday with many spots topping out above freezing for a couple of hours ahead of a cold front which will gradually work through the U.P. Behind the front, only a modest trend toward colder is expected to start the weekend.