New NOAA Data: March Warmer-than-Normal

March temperatures relative to 1895-2010 NOAA

March temperatures relative to 1895-2010
NOAA
Let me stipulate from the start that month-to-month temperature readings are not very useful. They offer one data point among many, and it's the job of scientists to sift through the accumulated facts and, without passion, arrive at a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.

But we live in the real world, where political charlatans and radio and cable television blowhards often don't let facts interfere with a good yarn - especially if it translates into votes or higher ratings. I mention this because it was only a couple of months ago that global warming skeptics seized upon February's heavy snowstorms in Washington D.C. to declare point, set, match.

"It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries "uncle," South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. Virginia's Republican Party used the same snowstorm to compile a mocking reported that Inhofe's daughter and grandchildren put up an igloo near the Capitol, with signs that read, "Al Gore's New Home" and "Honk if you [heart] Global Warming."

So it's altogether proper to note the latest word out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which finds that the U.S. averaged warmer-than-normal (as well as drier-than-normal) conditions in March. What's more, the NOAA reports that several New England states registered "one of the warmest March's on record." Some other data out of NOAA to consider:

  • Overall, the March temperature averaged across the contiguous United States was 44.4 degrees F, which is 1.9 degrees F above the long-term average. However, several storms developed along the Atlantic Coast, bringing below-normal temperatures to the South and Southeast, while bringing warm and wet weather to the Northeast and Midwest regions (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin).

  • Thirteen states had an average temperature that ranked among their 10 warmest for March, including Rhode Island, which had its warmest March on record; Maine its second warmest; and New Hampshire its third warmest.

  • Cooler-than-normal temperatures prevailed across the Gulf Coast states, New Mexico, Georgia and South Carolina. Florida had its fourth coolest March on record. It was the warmest January-March period for Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. By contrast, the three-month stretch was the coldest ever for Florida, the second coldest for Louisiana, and the third coldest for Mississippi and Alabama.

  • It was the warmest January-March period for Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. By contrast, the three-month stretch was the coldest ever for Florida, the second coldest for Louisiana, and the third coldest for Mississippi and Alabama.

To paraphrase my all-time favorite movie, "Casablanca," none of this necessarily adds up to that proverbial hill of beans. Could be that we freeze our butts off this April, May and June (and if so, rest assured that Messrs. DeMint, Inahofe will be joined by sundry other bloviators coming out of the woodwork to cry "ah ha!" But if the mercury readings continue to point in the other direction, will they still rush to the podium to tut-tut for the benefit of the television cameras? You tell me.
  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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