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This state summary was produced to meet a demand for state-level information in the wake of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment. The summary covers assessment topics directly related to NOAA’s mission, specifically historical climate variations and trends, future climate model projections of climate conditions during the 21st century, and past and future conditions of sea level and coastal flooding.

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Damaged Magnolia flowers in Piscataway (Middlesex County) as the result of an exceptionally warm February followed by more typical cold March conditions.

Long Winded: March 2017 Recap

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
April 3, 2017

With the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere transitioning from winter to spring, March can be a month of frequently-changing weather with pronounced pressure gradients, thus punctuated by windy conditions. This past March was no exception, and in fact, a windier month would be difficult to find. Winds gusted to 50 mph or greater at one or more NJWxNet station on 11 days and between 40–49 mph on four other days. At most locations, the warmest daily average temperature of the month was, of all things, on March 1st, while the first 80° day of the year was on the 25th. In between those warm spells was the largest snowstorm of the year in central and northern locations and two weeks of some of the coldest weather of the winter. Finally, March went out like a lion, with a statewide soaking rainstorm on the 31st.

The statewide monthly average temperature of 38.9° was 1.9° below the 1981–2010 average. This ranks as the 61st coldest of the past 123 Marches. It was the first month with a below-average temperature since last May, which was only 0.3° below average and last April with a 0.1° negative anomaly. While not exceptionally cold, due to the record warm February average of 40.1°, this was only the third time on record when March was colder than the previous February. This occurred previously in 1984 and 1960. The 1960 occurrence was mainly due to March being the second coldest on record, while in 1984, February was 9th mildest and March 10th coolest. On average, March is 7.3° warmer than February. While the cold of March damaged blossoms of some prematurely-blooming trees and flowers, vegetation was not far enough along to result in significant problems.


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