NCDC climate scientist Deke Arndt talks about the record March heat and the cumulative effect of a warm fall, winter, and early spring on “heating degree days”—an estimate of the energy demand during the U.S. cold season.
Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March in the contiguous United States since records began in 1895. The average temperature was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March. In the past 117 years, only one month (January 2006) has ever been so much warmer than its average temperature.
During the third week of August, portions of southern Europe and western Russia experienced a heat wave. Temperatures skyrocketed near 90 to over 100°F over several consecutive days, prompting emergency heat alerts.
In summer 2011, the South was in the grip of one of the worst droughts on record, and the fall drought outlook issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center provided little hope of relief, especially for the Southwest and Texas.