March 2012 will go down in history as the warmest March on record in central Indiana, averaging nearly a whopping 15 degrees above normal.
The last time a record monthly average temperature was set occurred at the close of August 1936 during the historic heat wave of 1936.
Even more impressive, the average temperature for March 2012 shattered the previous record (set in March 1910) by nearly five degrees, the National Weather Service noted.
The average monthly March temperature for the Indianapolis area this year was 56.6 degrees (14.4 above normal). In Terre Haute, the average temperature this March was 57.3 degrees (14.5 degrees above normal), while in Lafayette it was 56.6 on the average (15.8 degrees above normal).
The National Weather Service credited the record warmth of March on an upper-level ridge that remained over the central Indiana area from March 14-22.
June-like weather prevailed for more than a week. Daily temperatures averaged more than 20 degrees above normal during the period. The 11-day period from March 12-22 was the warmest of any 11-day period so early in the year prior to April 20.
At Indianapolis, the temperature made it to 70 degrees or warmer on 14 days, and 80 degrees or warmer on seven days during March, neither of which had ever happened on so many days in any previous March on record.
Indianapolis reached 84 degrees on the afternoon of March 21, the warmest temperature of the month, just missing the all-time March high of 85 degrees set on March 31, 1981.
Because of the warm winter and the sudden onset of extended early summer weather, vegetation sprang to life almost overnight. Tulips, lilacs, flowering bushes and trees were in full bloom during the last week of March. The outdoors was typical of early May rather than late March.
It may seem difficult to believe after such a warm month, but March did have a chilly stretch early in the month after a strong cold front passed through the region on the second. High temperatures were at or below 40 degrees March 3-5 over much of central Indiana.
However, much of central Indiana experienced high temperatures at 50 degrees or warmer for the remainder of the month as the record warmth began in earnest.
Officially at Indianapolis, there were 27 days with above normal average temperatures and four days with below normal average temperatures.
Precipitation during March ranged from less than an inch in west-central Indiana to more than six inches in extreme south central Indiana. Much of the western half of Indiana was on the dry side while normal to wetter than normal conditions prevailed in the eastern half.
Rainfall in most areas of central and southern Indiana varied from 1.5 to 3.5 inches.
The official outlook for April 2012 from the Climate Prediction Center indicates a greater chance for above normal temperatures for central Indiana. At Indianapolis, the average temperature for April is 53 degrees.
The outlook also calls for a greater chance of above normal precipitation. The average precipitation for April at Indianapolis is 3.81 inches with 0.2 inches of snowfall.