March was 4th warmest for contiguous US
Lower 48 states had 3rd warmest year to date, and Alaska was record warm
The March temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 47.5°F, or 6.0°F above the 20th century average, the warmest since 2012. The January-March temperature was 39.7°F, 4.6°F above the 20th century average, also the warmest since 2012. The March precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.89 inches, 0.38 inch above the 20th century average. The January-March precipitation total was 6.92 inches, 0.04 inch below average.
This analysis of U.S. temperature and precipitation is based on data back to January 1895, resulting in 122 years of data.
U.S. climate highlights: March
Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average March temperature. Temperatures were much warmer than average across parts of the Rocky Mountains, Central and Northern Plains, Midwest, and along the East Coast. No state had a record warm March.
The Alaska March temperature was the sixth warmest on record at 18.6°F, 7.8°F above average. Record warmth was observed across southern parts of the state. The end of March was particularly warm for Alaska with several locations setting new March daily temperature records. On March 31, the temperature at Klawock in southeastern Alaska reached 71.0°F, the warmest March temperature ever observed in the state.
Above-average precipitation was observed along the West Coast, Midwest, Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi River Valley. Seven states were much wetter than average. Record-breaking rain events at both the beginning and end of March caused significant flooding across parts of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas, each had their wettest March on record with 16.20 inches and 12.33 inches of rain, respectively.
Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southwest and Central Plains and along parts of the East Coast, where eight states were much drier than average. New Mexico had its driest March on record with 0.06 inch of precipitation, only 8 percent of average.
According to the March 29 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 15.1 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 0.8 percent compared to the beginning of March. Drought conditions improved across parts of the Northwest and Northern California, however, drought conditions continued to impact over 90 percent of California. Drought conditions worsened in the Southwest and parts of the Southern and Central Plains. Short-term drought created ideal wildfire conditions along the Oklahoma and Kansas border, where a grassland fire charred more than 400,000 acres, the largest wildfire on record in Kansas.