Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Thursday: 4 April 2013

The Month of March  -  @ 08:05:12
It was The Month of March, Number 86 in a series.

Below is the usual temperature anomalies product, at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. Displayed is the mean temperature anomaly. Click on it and you'll get the high and low temperature anomalies on a new page.

In most places, temperature anomalies didn't change very much from February's, other than to intensify. The US West remained warm over much of the region, while the east settled into much colder temperatures. The high and low anomalies suggest that the cold pattern was due much more to colder days than to colder nights. For the West, the opposite was true: nights were much warmer than usual while days were just somewhat warmer than normal.

We find the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's precipitation plots here.

The dry conditions of February continued in the West, while the rain surpluses seen in the central and eastern US dwindled. Most locations received just normal rainfall at best, and Florida, North Carolina, the Gulf Coast, and the northeastern states were especially dry.

For the Athens, GA area:

Here is a plot of our daily temperatures excursions in March, along with precipitation amounts as experienced in Wolfskin. In December and January we had higher than normal temperatures; in February we returned to seasonably cold weather. Cold weather intensified in March, with the average temperature much below normal for much of the month. Rainfall was about average, with one or three good heavy rains.

The average monthly temperature for March was 48.9 degF, 4 degrees below normal. The average high was 6 degrees below the normal average high of 66.2 degF, and the average low was 2-3 degF below the average low. We had 1 day more than 1 standard deviation above normal highs (4.9 normal), which was the same result as in February. We had a remarkable 11 days more than 1 standard deviation below normal lows (4.9 normal). This March was the 8th coldest March for the Athens area since 1920.

Here are the low temperatures in March, this year (green), last year (red), and record lows (blue).

We did break by one defF a daily low record of 28F set on March 27, 1913. Much of the time we stayed below the average. Compare with the red line of last March, when we had the warmest March on record!

The monthly histogram below shows the breakdown of high and low temperature range counts from March 1948 on. The error bars are just plus/minus one standard deviation, which I arbitrarily set as the limits outside of which are "significantly" anomalous.

While March was quite cold in its average temperatures, most temperature ranges were just within the range of variation indicated by the error bars. Worth noting though is that nearly *all* the ranges were just within variation. There were *just* significantly fewer 70-79F highs than normal, and *just* significantly more highs less than 60F. Same with the lows - in fact, nearly all the ranges are *just* inside or outside of one standard deviation.

The figure below shows the Athens precipitation data which are official for our area. As usual the green line shows our actual rainfall, the red shows the average accumulation expected. The black dots are rainfall over the last 20 years, the vast river of peach shows the standard deviation, and the mustard color shows a few days when we were significantly below normal rainfall.

Our total out here was 4.19", and in Athens (shown here) it was 4.35". 4.43" is normal for March. We ended up just about normal, and that was mainly due to one or two heavy rainfalls in the last few days of March.

Prognosticator stuff:

What is the neat prognosticator telling us? In terms of precipitation, it's been right over the last two months, and is still telling us more rain for the next couple of weeks, tapering off to normal levels over the next month or three. Its temperature predictions have modified somewhat: higher temperatures than normal begin *now* and continue over the next three months.

ENSO stuff:

The folks at CPC have a version of PDF or HTML that is much different from their previous presentations, but at least it's there and the link isn't broken.

As of April 1, ENSO neutral conditions continue, and are expected to remain neutral into the Northern Hemisphere summer.

As of Mar 26, the US Drought Monitor now has none of Georgia (or the southeast) in exceptional or extreme drought. There is just a little bit of central Georgia in abnormally dry conditions. This is generally true of all the eastern US, although the Florida peninsula is are becoming problematic again. Otherwise the March rains helped out quite a bit. Still, much of the US continues to be under at least moderate drought classification, with a lot of the southern and central regions in the country in severe or extreme drought.

NOAA's Monthly State of the Climate product for February is available. And last year's annual report for 2012 regionally, nationally, and globally is now also available.

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