This could be the warmest March on record for Oklahoma, according to Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey
With each passing day, March moves up in the record books in its quest to become the warmest on record for Oklahoma. It doesn’t have too far to look back – 2007 is the current record holder with a statewide average of 58.3 degrees.
March 2012, through the 27th, has a statewide average of 58.1 degrees … at least according to Oklahoma Mesonet numbers. Remember that the official records are based off the numbers computed by NCDC and consist of a mixture of NWS COOP and Oklahoma Mesonet numbers. But it’s pretty plain to see that this March is going to challenge that record from just five years ago.
Statewide Average Temperatures: March 1-27
High Temps Low Temps Avg Mean Temps
Mesonet Avgs 70.1F 46.1F 58.1F
Normal 62.3F 36.4F 49.4F
Dep. from Norm. 7.8F 9.7F 8.8F
Even though the high temperatures have been almost 8 degrees above normal, the low temperatures have contributed a bit more to the possible record-setting month at nearly 10 degrees above normal. It just hasn’t gotten really cold this month. Some stations have spent less than an hour at or below freezing so far this month.
Boise City leads the state’s Mesonet stations with 54 hours. There doesn’t appear to be any frigid air in store for this part of the world for the next week or so. As March marches into the record books with each passing day, the chances for a damaging freeze event, so dreaded by Oklahoma’s agricultural industry, also becomes a bit more remote. Parts of southern Oklahoma have already reached their average date for their last freeze based on 1981-2010 data.
The northern parts of the state, especially the northwest and Panhandle, still have about a 15-30 days to go. The latest last freeze during that time period shifts about another month from the average last freeze, from April 10 in the south to May 20 in the Panhandle.
While there is no really cold air showing up right now, at least the kind that can really do damage to wheat and orchard crops, it is not out of the question.
Another defense against a killing frost comes from the lack of snow cover to our north and northwest. Only 7% of the country has snow cover, and that is almost entirely in the mountainous regions. Any cold air that does plunge down this way for the near future will travel over a warm and bare land surface on its entire journey.
That will help modify any of those air masses, warming them up before they reach this far south.
Again, it doesn’t look like we’ll have another bout of that cold air for the foreseeable future, and odds diminish as we go deeper into April. But I will not gamble with such a definitive statement with what we’ve seen from the weather patterns over the last year or so.