Comparing the Coldest and Warmest First Days of Spring Mar 20, 2019

[NOAA by Rebecca Lindsey] After a cold winter in many areas of the country, today may not look or feel like spring. But by the Sun’s calendar, today is officially the first day of spring.

In honor of spring’s extremes, these maps that show the warmest and coldest first days of spring in the historical record for thousands of U.S. locations (i.e. the highest and lowest daytime high temperature ever recorded at a given station on March 20). The legend is the same on both maps: blue colors shows daytime high temperatures below 50°F, while daytime highs above 50°F are colored yellow, orange, and red. These historical observations are from the Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily data collection.

[Warmest first days of spring (March 20) recorded at thousands of U.S. locations. From NOAA Climate]

The maps show the warmest and coldest daily maximum temperature (“daytime high”) on March 20 for more than 4,000 U.S. locations within the Lower 48. The warmest first days of spring experienced by these U.S. locations are all 50°F or warmer, except for New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Within the rest of the “CONUS” (the contiguous 48 states) we see only “warm” colors: yellows in the far Northeast and the mountains of the West where the warmest first day of spring was between 50-60°F; oranges in the Northern Plains, Pacific Northwest, and upper Midwest, where the warmest first day of spring ranged between 70-80°F. First days of spring with temperatures above 90°F are mostly confined to the southern Plains, the Southwest, and southern Florida.

There is greater variability in the coldest first days of spring than the warmest. In the northern Plains and Alaska, the coldest first day of spring at several locations was below 0° F (black dots). And most of the northern third of the country has experienced a first day of spring that was below freezing. Meanwhile, the coldest first day of spring experienced at the southern tip of Florida was above 70°F.

[Coldest first days of spring (March 20) recorded at thousands of U.S. locations. From NOAA Climate]

What about where you live? Will today be closer to your location’s warmest first day of spring or its coldest? Explore the maps to understand where today’s temperature fits into your location’s climate history.

Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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