March 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: Christopher C. Burt , 11:05 PM GMT on April 13, 2012

March 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary

March was notable weather-wise for the extraordinary early spring heat wave that affected the eastern two thirds of the U.S. and southern and eastern portions of Canada. It was one of the most anomalous temperature events on record for anywhere in the world. March heat records were also set in Scotland, Iceland, Norway, the Summit station on the peak of Greenland's ice cap, and Perth, Australia. A massive tornado outbreak in the U.S. killed 39. Cyclone Irina resulted in 72 deaths in Madagascar and severe storms with flooding rains occurred in Hawaii and eastern Australia.
Below is a summary some of the month’s highlights.


The amazing ‘summer in March’ across the eastern two thirds of the country resulted in a nationwide average temperature of 51.1°F, some +8.6°F above the normal March average of 42.5°F, and thus the 2nd most anomalously warm month in U.S. history (only January 2006 was even more above the average). A large section of the upper Midwest experienced temperatures more than 15°F above normal.

This map shows how widespread the March heat event was with about half of all the continental state divisions reporting their warmest March on record. Map from NCDC.

Jeff Masters has already commented in detail about the event as I also did in a blog on March 23.. So please refer back to our earlier blogs on the subject for more details.

As the eastern two-thirds of the country sweltered it was, in contrast, unusually cold in the western states of Washington, Oregon, and California. Some very unusual late-season snowfalls occurred in Oregon where heavy snow fell right on the Pacific coastline of Oregon. 8.5” of snow accumulated at Tillamook, 7.5” at Newport, and 3.5” at Bandon on March 12. Inland, a late-season record heavy snowfall of 7.5” accumulated in Eugene on March 20-21. A record dry rainy season in California was rudely interrupted by torrential rains in mid-March. One location (Scotts Creek) in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco picked up 20.32” of rain on March 10-13.

A freak late-season snowfall blankets the coastal Oregon town of Lincoln City on March 12. Photo from and taken by Kristina Rinell.

While Oregon and Washington reported close to their wettest March on record in Colorado it was the driest such and most ski resorts reported their lowest March snowfalls on record. Texas received much greater rainfall than average helping to alleviate the drought conditions of last year.

A massive tornado outbreak on March 2-3 killed 39 people from Indiana to Alabama. Approximately 80 separate tornados formed including a rare early-season EF-4 twister that hit Henryville, Indiana killing 12 in that small town alone. An excellent summary of the event can be found here.

An aerial view of the damage inflicted on Henryville, Indiana by the EF-4 tornado that killed 12 in the town on March 2. Photographer unknown.

Hawaii was affected by a series of strong weather systems March 4-8 that produced severe thunderstorms, one of which produced a state-record size hailstone 4” in diameter on the north coast of Oahu. An amazing 45.95” of rain fell at Hanalei during the storm period including 35.97” in just the two-days of March 7-8.

The coldest temperature in the northern hemisphere during March was -72.9°F (-58.3°C) at Summit station in Greenland on March 12. In spite of this cold reading, a March monthly record high temperature of 11.3°F (-11.5°C) was set at the Summit station on March 24. A remarkable rise of almost 85° in two weeks.


I am unaware of any major extreme weather events in Central or South America this past March.


Much of Western Europe experienced a very dry and abnormally warm March. Portions of Italy received no measureable precipitation whatsoever and for most of all of southern Europe it was the driest March on record. In the U.K. it was the driest March since 1953 and 5th driest on record exasperating the ongoing drought situation. Temperatures in the U.K. averaged 4.5°F (2.5°C) above normal, the warmest March since 1957 and 3rd warmest on record. The average maximum temperature was, at 6.5°F (3.6°C) above normal, the warmest ever recorded for the month. An all-time record maximum temperature for Scotland was set at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on March 27th when it reached 74.5°F (23.6°C). The previous record was 72.0°F (22.2°C) at Gordon Castle in March 1957. The coldest temperature reported in the U.K. during the month was 16.7°F (-8.5°C) at Braemar, Scotland on March 18. The greatest 24-hour rainfall was 1.80” (45.6mm) at Cluanie Inn, Highland on March 18-19, and highest wind gust 71 mph at Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland on March 7.

Iceland also set its warmest March temperature on record when it reached 68.9°F (20.5°C) at Kvisker on March 29th. This smashed the old March record of 65.8°F/18.8°C (set at Eskifjorour on March 28, 2000) by an astonishing 3°F (1.7°C).

Apparently a new March heat record for Norway was also set by an even wider margin. A temperature of 73.6°F (23.1°C) was recorded at Landvik Grimstad on March 27 beating the old national March heat record of 67.6°F (19.8°C) set at Frederiksberg on March 25, 1945.


A long-term drought in portions of central Africa has resulted in a series of large wildfires in the region surrounding Mt. Kenya, displacing much of the wildlife the area is so famous for.

The hottest temperature in the world (and, of course, northern hemisphere) during March was 114.8°F (46.0°C) measured at Abu Na Ama, Sudan on March 14.

Tropical Cyclone Irina churned about the Mozambique Channel (between Mozambique and Madagascar) for 7 long days March 2-8. It never made landfall and its winds topped out at just 85 mph, but persistent flooding rains affected mountainous areas of southern Madagascar causing flash floods that killed at least 72. A further 8 deaths were attributed to the storm in Mozambique.


Heavy snows in the mountains of Afghanistan resulted in an avalanche that killed at least 37 in the northeastern village of Shirinazen, Badakshan Province on March 3-4.

An unusual (for time of year and southerly latitude) tropical storm, named Pakhar, came ashore in southern Vietnam near Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) on March 31. Fortunately the storms 115 mph winds had diminished to just 50 mph as it crossed the Mekong Delta region so only 4 deaths were reported.


March was the 4th wettest nationwide in 113 years of record. It also was abnormally cool, with maximum average temperatures ranking as the 4th coolest on record. A marked exception to the general coolness was the southwestern corner of Western Australia, especially in and around Perth. Perth recorded its warmest March temperature on record when it reached 106.5°F (41.4°C) on March 11, part of a record tying March heat wave that lasted four days with 100°F (38°C)+ temperatures (March 9-12). The highest temperature in the country and the southern hemisphere for the month was 112.3°F (44.6°C) at Kalbarri on March 9. The coldest temperature in the country for the month was 32.0°F (0.0°C) at Mount Read, Tasmania on March 23.

A very cool month for all of Australia except for the coastal region of Western Australia. Map courtesy of Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Record rainfall during the first week of the month resulted in widespread flooding in portions of northern Victoria, southern and western New South Wales, and central Australia. Several sites recorded their all-time calendar day rainfall records during this week. The greatest single-day rainfall measured was 13.47” (342.2mm) at Daradgee, Queensland on March 26.

One of the wettest March’s on record, and, in fact, THE wettest March on record for widespread portions of New South Wales. Map courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

One of the creepier aspects of the flooding was a spider invasion around Wagga Wagga in New South Wales when floodwaters forced arachnids (in this case wolf spiders) from their burrows into surrounding brush where they wove phantom-like webs.

A couple of photos of the blanket of cobwebs produced by wolf spiders escaping floodwaters near Waga Waga in New South Wales. Photos from Reuters.


Some of the worst flooding in Fijian history killed at least 5 and displaced 8,000 on Viti Levu following a week of torrential rainfall that culminated in Cyclone Daphne passing over the island chain on March 31.

French Polynesia (where Tahiti is located) experienced abnormally warm temperatures and an all-time absolute maximum temperature of 95.7°F (35.4°C) was registered at the town of Hereheretue on Tuamotu Island on March 9th.

New Zealand’s extremes for the month were a maximum temperature of 84.6°F (29.2°C) at Timaru, South Island on March 24, a minimum temperature of 27.3°F (-2.6°C) at Lake Pukaki (March 26) and also Hanmer Forest on March 9, South Island. The greatest daily rainfall was 6.61” (168mm) at North Egmont on March 2 and also at Kerikeri on March 18, both on North Island. A wind gust of 99mph (158 km/h) was measured at Brothers Island on March 3.


The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during March was -97.8°F (-72.1°C) recorded at Dome A site on March 28th.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Stephen Burt for the U.K. extremes, and Jeremy Budd for New Zealand weather extremes. Also special thanks to Trausti Jonsson of the Icelandic Meteorology Office for information concerning the new March heat records in Iceland and Norway.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Log In or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 11 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

11. Adderbrown
5:33 AM GMT on June 08, 2012
For someone looking to work (or make improvements to the placement) throughout spots because numerous because Birthplace Protection, hearth company administration or simply felony the legal, any MPA diploma (Learn with General public Operations) might be the crucial element to your door associated with job success. Certified Cloud Governance Specialist certification training // IBM Certified Solution Developer certification training // Certified SOA Quality Assurance Specialist certification preparation // IBM Certified Advanced Deployment Professional certification preparation // Arcitura Education Certified Cloud Technology Professional // IBM Certified Database Administrator
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. hansfalli
9:44 AM GMT on April 24, 2012
It's really an open secret the weather disaster come closer at every moment.I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
visit website
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. geo26r
9:22 AM GMT on April 20, 2012
It’s nice to take a vacation once in a while because this gives you physical and mental refreshment. I can still remember my unforgettable experience when I was in Bantayan Island. The place was indescribable. The surroundings were rare, pleasant to your soul.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. cyclonebuster
4:13 AM GMT on April 17, 2012
Bring the ice back.....

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. blairtrewin
8:22 AM GMT on April 16, 2012
The Australian rain event is even more impressive than it looks on the map shown, as it ran across late February and early March so the rain was split between the two months.

As an indicator of how extreme the event was (and how large an area it covered), the 7-day total rainfall averaged across each of three major river basins, the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Upper Murray (between them, these cover most of southern inland New South Wales, and parts of northern Victoria), was in each case nearly double the previous record for any 7-day period. Fortunately, the weeks leading up to the event had been reasonably dry and the region's major reservoirs (Hume, Blowering, Burrinjuck) were below full capacity and able to absorb some of the river flows, otherwise the flooding would have been even more severe than it was.

There's further detail in a Special Climate Statement at There's also some fairly impressive footage of water overtopping a dam under construction near Canberra at ed&v=8L-rQJ8R37M.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
1:23 AM GMT on April 16, 2012
Thanks for this. I found a Google translation of the Norway report and have posted the details on an update to my blog (and credited you in the 'Kudos' at end of blog.

Thanks for your valuable input!

Quoting hungurdiskar:
Chris, you also should know that Norway had an all-time March-record as well, 23.1°C. I have not found any reports on that in English, however, the web of (Norwegian Met. Institute) has a short news report in Norweginan:

I know that Sweden did not have a new national March record but many long-term local records were beaten there (the report is in Swedish only): peraturer-1.21145

I will let you know if I see anything on this in English later - so you can quote it in your main text.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. hungurdiskar
11:14 PM GMT on April 15, 2012
Chris, you also should know that Norway had an all-time March-record as well, 23.1°C. I have not found any reports on that in English, however, the web of (Norwegian Met. Institute) has a short news report in Norweginan:

I know that Sweden did not have a new national March record but many long-term local records were beaten there (the report is in Swedish only): peraturer-1.21145

I will let you know if I see anything on this in English later - so you can quote it in your main text.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. hungurdiskar
1:15 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
My name is Trausti Jonsson, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Hungurdiskar (pancake ice) is the name of my weather blog in Icelandic:
I am not very active at my english bloggsite, but one might occasionally find notes on unusual weather events in Iceland there: /
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
12:04 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Wow! Thanks for this 'hungurdiskar'. Just amazing that the old record was beaten by an amazing 1.7°C. If you don't mind, I'd like to update my blog with this info and credit you for bringing it to my attention. What is your name (for the credit) if you don't mind.


Quoting hungurdiskar:
A new max March temp. record in Iceland as well, see: /entry/1231820/
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. hungurdiskar
11:46 PM GMT on April 14, 2012
A new max March temp. record in Iceland as well, see: /entry/1231820/
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 11 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page
Ad Blocker Enabled

Weather Extremes

About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.