March 2010 warmest on record |

March 2010 warmest on record

March 2010 was the warmest March on record for average global temperatures, and the world’s year-to-date average temperature was the fourth-warmest January-March period on record, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). March temperatures in Colorado, however, stayed in the normal range, thanks to El Nino.

During an El Nino year, areas south of Colorado tend to be cooler and wetter than normal, while areas north of the Centennial State tend to be warm and dry. On the whole, though, El Nino has a warming effect on global temperatures.

“The globe has consistently been getting warmer, with a little bit of noise, for two or three decades,” said Deke Arndt of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. “And El Nino pushes things to the top of the list. It’s a big footprint of warm water in the ocean.”

El Nino weakened to moderate strength in March, but it contributed significantly to the warmth in the tropics and overall ocean temperature. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, El Nino is expected to continue its influence in the Northern Hemisphere at least through the spring.

According to Arndt, March 2010 was the 301st consecutive month with warmer-than-normal average global temperatures.

Regionally, warmer-than-normal conditions prevailed in March in northern Africa, South Asia and Canada. Cooler-than-normal regions included Mongolia and eastern Russia, northern and western Europe, Mexico, northern Australia, western Alaska and the southeastern U.S.

For the month of April, the temperature averaged across the contiguous U.S. was above normal. The generally warm and dry influence of persistent high-pressure areas brought above-normal temperatures to most states east of the Rocky Mountains. Only three states – California, Nevada, and Oregon – had cooler-than-average temperatures in April.

According to the Rutgers Snow Lab, a NOAA-supported facility, the North American snow cover extent for April was the lowest on record for April, dating back to 1966. It was also the largest negative anomaly – meaning distance below long term average – on record for any month.

Julie Sutor can be reached at

(970) 668-4630 or

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