Weather out of whack as winter nears end
Peak bloom dates for cherry trees in the nation's capital are this week, earlier than usual.
March 19th, 2012
12:50 PM ET

Weather out of whack as winter nears end

On the last weekend of winter, people were taking out their skis in Arizona and putting them away in Minnesota. They were putting on sweaters in Phoenix and stripping down to their shorts to ice fish near Fargo, North Dakota. They were calling out snowplows in the California desert and counting the millions left in their snow removal budget in Ohio.

There were real extremes in a record-breaking streak of weather across the country.

Here's how the topsy-turvy climate confounded convention:

Officials closed 180 miles of Interstate 40 across northern Arizona on Sunday as a winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on the region. In Flagstaff, schools were closed Monday as the snow made travel hazardous.

But some snow-hungry visitors went to Flagstaff specifically for the snow, CNN affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix reported.

"We knew what the weather would be like up here so we made sure to keep all of our snow gear so we could come up here and play in the snow and have lots of fun," Jennifer Gregory told the station.

The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort in Flagstaff reported 36 inches of snow.

While residents got their snow gear out in Arizona, they were stowing it for the season in Biwabik, Minnesota, 1,800 miles northeast of Flagstaff.

The Giants Ridge Ski Area in Biwabik closed for the season Sunday afternoon, three weeks ahead of schedule. Resort officials blamed the warm weather, saying it has deteriorated trail conditions, CNN affiliate KDLH reported.

While the warmth may have meant business lost in Minnesota, it brought unexpected business to Alger Hardware and Rental in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"Last week, I looked at the weather and thought, 'Maybe I ought to get a little bit of (spring supplies) in.' I didn't think it would be this nice," owner Bill Dejong told CNN affiliate WOOD-TV. The store ran out of charcoal and propane for cookouts and fertilizer for, well, late winter gardening.

Allergy sufferers were also shopping in Grand Rapids. "We're going to sell a lot of antihistamines this year," Walker Street Pharmacy owner Ed Rutowski  told WOOD, as pollen counts spiked with the warmth.

In Atlanta, pollen counts that usually peak in early April were popping off the charts over the weekend, CNN affiliate WXIA-TV reported.

Warm weather also has cherry trees in the nation's capital blooming earlier than usual this year, CNN affiliate WTTG-TV in Washington reports. Peak bloom dates are expected to be Tuesday through Friday, well ahead of the average peak bloom date of April 4, according to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website. The event begins Tuesday.

Across the northern part of the country, from the upper Plains through New England, residents were enjoying days of record-high temperatures.

Since March 12, there have been 1,192 high-temperature records set or broken across the United States, and the forecast for the next several days doesn’t show any reprieve from these record-setting highs as parts of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest see highs 30 degrees to 40 degrees above normal.

Chicago recently had high temperatures at or above 80 degrees for five consecutive days, setting a record for the most 80-degree plus days during any March. The city on Saturday also saw the warmest St. Patrick’s Day since records began in 1872.

Burlington, Vermont, was enjoying a "hard to believe" week of warmth, CNN affiliate WCAX-TV reported. On Sunday, the high was 76 degrees in Burlington, 14 degrees above the previous high for the March 18, set in 1945. The city's average high for the day is 41 degrees, according to the report.

It was warm enough over the weekend to ice fish in shorts and a T-shirt on Jewett Lake in Elizabeth, Minnesota, about an hour's drive from Fargo.

"It's 70 degrees up here and down here you're sitting on an ice cube," fisherman Neal Funkhouser told CNN affiliate KXJB-TV in Fargo. The forecast high for Fargo on Monday was 75 degrees and the low was 53, well above the averages of 37 and 21 for the day, according to KXJB.

Contrast those North Dakota temperatures with the Phoenix forecast for Monday, 58 for a high and 44 for a low, according to KPHO.

"This is the kind of weather I like. It is sweater weather. I wish it was like this all the time," resident Matthew Conn told the station.

In the southern California desert, snow made a mess of I-10 between Riverside and Palm Springs over the weekend, leading to a 10-car pileup that closed the freeway for 90 minutes late Saturday, CNN affiliate KESQ-TV in Palm Springs reported.

"It started with a single vehicle spinout because of the snow and the sleet that was on the roadway. It ended up escalating to a 10-car pile up, closed the freeway" for up to an hour and a half, Darren Meyer of California Highway Patrol told the station.

On Sunday, the California Department of Transportation pulled plow trucks down from the nearby mountains to clear I-10 and Highway 60 through the San Gorgonio Pass, KESQ reported.

In Ohio, government officials are counting their savings as snowplows have had less work this winter.

"This year we've spent $43 million on ice and snow removal across the state. Compare that to last year, we spent $81 million by this time. That's $40 million in savings," Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Faulkner told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland. Officials were looking at using the savings toward road repairs, according to the report.

Warm temperatures don't necessarily mean good things though.

Reports from CNN affiliate KHGI-TV in Nebraska said at least two tornadoes touched down Sunday night, injuring three people and tossing 31 rail cars from tracks in Lincoln County.

And the National Weather Service was warning that more severe weather was possible, with severe thunderstorms in the forecast from northeastern Texas through Oklahoma into Arkansas.

The rain came early to Oklahoma City as during the morning the city got 1.83 inches of rain, breaking the previous record for the day, 1.73 inches set in 1903. Flash flood warnings were issued for the area.

CNN Weather Ticker: What's behind this weather?

Forecasters: Warm weather here to stay

soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. john

    Critics say there is no global warming, Al Gore is wrong. Many said the earth was flat years ago and the "nut cases" proved them wrong. Al Gore's day of reckoning will come and there is no denying it. It may or may not be us causing this because Ice ages come and go every thousands of years but the Ice caps are melting at an alarming rate so don't say there is no global warming when it is happening right in front of you.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Confused

      Yes yes, there is Global Warming and Global Cooling, the problem is, there is nothing you or any other person can do about it.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      You are either lying or severely misinfomed- JUST last month a 10 year study of ice caps show NO MELTING – one German expert says he was Doped by supposed experts making UP Global waming to get Grant money. Global waming ia HOAX lke Y2K was a FAKE, a scam a hussle NOT One, NOT ONE Scientific paper has been peer reviewed and approved for Global warming or cooling

      Earth was flat when and how long?? Bet you dont know, what year and who knew the distance aroundthe Earth? Erotensenie in 200 bc or so knew the earth was round – so what year was the flat thero in and what main countries- go back to your area 51 magazine

      March 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Penny Nickels

    Snow in Flagstaff in March, means it will be 125 degrees in Phoenix in August.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dearest Puppy

    Was 73 degrees in Montreal yesterday. Mid sixties today. And winter does not end tl tomorrow. I love it!

    March 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Confused

    Ice caps have been melting since the end of the last Ice Age. Our planet gets tossed about in space on its axis by forces we can not yet comprehend yet alone control. Sit back, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride while you are still alive.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessica

      We actually comprehend the Milankovitch cycles very well.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kay

    Not looking forward to weeks of 110+ this summer and no rain for months here in the midwest.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Get used to it. Don't mess with mother nature.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duke5343

    DDanny
    You are either lying or severely misinfomed- JUST last month a 10 year study of ice caps show NO MELTING – one German expert says he was Doped by supposed experts making UP Global waming to get Grant money. Global waming ia HOAX lke Y2K was a FAKE, a scam a hussle NOT One, NOT ONE Scientific paper has been peer reviewed and approved for Global warming or cooling

    March 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • bg123

      So one of you guys says that there is no melting of the ice caps, while another says the ice caps are melting the same as they always have since the last ice age. Make up your collective idiot creationist birther mind.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • MandoZink

      Now that's funny! I bet you run out of gas a lot thinking your fuel gauge is a conspiracy. I will just say one thing I am absolutely sure about: You were NOT a computer programmer in the 80' OR 90's. The big question we continually asked was "We know what trouble even a slight error can cause, so how are the imbedded programs going to fail when we only used 2 digits to represent the year?" Those in charge always replied, "Oh, someone will fix it by then." The programming community is SO glad you were never in charge. Your other comments have equal validity.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luca B

      "Climate forcing by anthropogenic aerosols" 1992 Science 255 (5043) , pp. 423-430

      "Extinction risk from climate change" 2004 Nature 427 (6970) , pp. 145-148

      "Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model" 2000
      Nature 408 (6809) , pp. 184-187

      Theres three, I'm too lazy to copy more. I'm sure you agree that Science and Nature are reputable, peer-reviewed journals. Oh and each of those articles has been cited over 1,000 times.

      Stop making stuff up

      March 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh for Pete's sake!

      You should post your link to that article, because I'll bet it was from a right-wing anti-science website.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill C

    The profit mongers who continue to try and sell man made global warming to line their pockets will use this as more "proof" of their long discarded theory. Well folks, Europe is having one of its colder winters in years, and the west coast of the U.S. isn't exactly basking in the sun right now. Is the earth getting warmer? Maybe, although the statistics are nearly impossible to decipher as we have much more accurate monitoring devices then we did even 20 years ago, never mind a hundred. Is man at least partially responsible for this? Maybe, although the data is by no means conclusive. But the bottom line is that the whole "global climate change" hysteria is nothing but a means for the President to line the pockets of his political cronies.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe Smith

      Please tell me you didn't breed. Seriously. Snow in AZ,, freezing weather in Europe, 75 in NW, worst tornado start in history... oh, no problem. It is the profit mongers. I sincerely hope you experience some horrific weather as a result of the climate change and then would love to see you post again. Look around the world buddy. I have been to many countries and all I hear is that people expeiencing weather at levels never before seen. Americans are just so foolish and short sighted. It is not a wonder that the country is declining faster than oil prices rise.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • RandomOne

      Shelli – Your comment is why scientists are trying to change "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" – it doesn't necessarily mean everywhere on Earth is getting warmer, it means that the increase in greenhouse gases are causing more extreme weather (heat waves, freezing temperatures, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc) than what's typical across the globe. NJ had a blizzard back in October and a tropical storm a month or so before that. That's not very normal. You also have to think about all the flooding that's occurred over the last year. So much for "100 year floods" because they seem to be happening every 10 years now.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Nice job getting it precisely backwards. It is the profit mongers who are doing everything they can to undermine the theory and disseminate misinformation. It's more profitable to trash the environment than to protect it.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guester

      There is absolutely nothing discarded about the theory of global warming.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • J. M.

      "Long discarded theory" ? Maybe by right wing kool aid drinkers. And you cite the record cold in Europe. ALL of it is EXACTLY what the climate warming ( better term Climate WEIRDING) models all predict. Disruptions in nml weather patterns. The PLANET is warming, doesn't mean it won't be colder in certain spots as relationships between systems becomes disrupted.

      Current events are actually validating what was predicted, not disputing it. But people like you don't accept science. It is easier to parrot back what you are taught.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Long discarded by who?

      As for Europe having their coldest temperature, I guess the word "average" doesn't make sense to you.

      European Winter is actually incredibly warm this year. It only had Severe cold for a week or so, and the rest of the time it was warm and dry.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Hey Bill,

      Why not get FACTS before you talk.

      Europe, where I live half the year, was having a WARM winter until the end of January. Then we got real cold for 6 weeks.

      Now its 70 degrees in March. That 6 weeks of cold is enough for you stick your head in the sands idiots to deny the truth.

      How many records set in the US the past month?

      How many of the warmest years ever in the past decade?

      Bet you are one of those "drill baby drill" morons

      March 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan vale

      Bill I'm just saying dog. You are a trollfaced trollathon 6000. You're trollsturbating all over My reading space. I bet you are a 13 year old boy or a 40 year old man without a high school diploma.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Smith

    This is only the beginning. 110+ is going to be winter in a few years. Oh, I forgot, I am not supposed to say that as some guy will come on saying "liberals, global warming, myth" but yet 99% of scientists say global warming. Humans will soon wake up. Just wait until some serious weather like the twisters we're been having start hitting everywhere.... Oh mama. Talk about destruction. But of course, this is not the humans' fault. Oh god no.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill C

      Why are liberals so angry? And why can't you answer somebody without insulting them? Please quit throwing out the 99% of all scientists agree line. It is a lie, and you know it is a lie. Most scientists work for? The government. Who profits by continuing to perpetuate this myth? The government, as it hands out goodies to its politcal cronies for their beloved green projects. Europe is colder. Last summer was colder in the Eastern U.S. If you want to do something about it, cap the volcanoes.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shelli

      Not going to liberal bash you but I do believe there is no global warming. I'm in NJ and the passed three winters have seen record cold and snow fall. No Global warming happening here. I would agree with you if we had not had such harsh winters the passed three. And quite frankly the Summer's have been cooler than usual with the exception of a month or so last Summer. So I don't buy this global warming theory.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. M.E.

    As much as I love the extra fashion opportunities afforded by winter, I really do prefer not being cold. I love wearing my pirate coat and my leather/cashmere/rabbit fur gloves and all that, but I simply can't resist the draw of being able to feel sunlight on my skin as soon as it becomes sane to do so. In weather like this, I switch over to lace, fine netting, and other fabrics that allow maximum breathability along with the fun of sleeves and such.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Shelli

    I heard the same thing from a local weather gal here. She said if things don't change it's going to be a blistering Summer. Super, can't wait. Ugghhh . . .

    March 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. I know science and stuff

    The Earth isn't always in the same place, you know. It's always spinning and revolvuling – that means it rotates around the sun. You can't predict how far away it will be from the sun from one day to the next, because it wobbles too. That's where night and day come from and our seasons. To make things even more unpredictable, the sun keeps shooting solar flares directly at us. Depending on how strong the flare is and how far away the sun is, it can heat up the earth anywhere from a molecule of a degree to 100 degrees, like when the dinosaurs lived thousands of years ago. The only way for the earth to cool is for it to shoot a volcano back at the sun, which heats up the sun and starts the process all over again. So, why don't we stop the earth from revulating? Good idea, except for Newton's conservation of momentulam.. If the earth ever stopped, we would all go shooting off into space, and we would never ever stop because there are no vacuums in space. So, to put it in a nutshell, Al Gore is wrong.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doug

      English was the language you used (not very well, I might add), but I didn't understand a single word you wrote! You sound like Sarah Palin on crack! Man, I'm sorry, but you really need to keep these opinions you have to yourself before Rick Santorum picks them up as campain promises and begins the war against rational understanding of observable phenomena! GO BACK TO SHCOOL, DUDE!!!!!

      March 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      What? You may get science and stuff, but clearly lack an education in proper structuring of sentences and conveying your thoughts within them. Be a little clearer please. Thank you.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Earth actually cools all the time. Heat is just aggitated molecules and Earth without the sun will be a frozen planet.

      As for predicting the earth distance from the sun, our trajectory never really change. It varies by a small margine based on how many planets are aligned with us at the time, but it is essentially a predictable path.

      Our spinning is also a constant (average) rate, like you said governed by the laws of momentum and conservation of energy.

      So you might know a little bit of science, but you are applying it all wrong.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • WASP

      @"i know": maybe you should do some research on how gravity works. if the earth stops rotating it wouldn't mean dip as far as earth flying off into space. we would still circle the sun due to it's gravity. the thing that would happen if per say earth quit spinning, one side of the earth would be molten rock, the other frozen solid. i do have to ask a serious couple of questions:1) do you truly believe that trash you typed or are you a troll? 2) if you truly believe that rubbish, who the heck taught you that bs?

      March 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MJ

    Thank you for interviewing local mom-n-pop businesses for this article.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tim W.

    So many people can not see the biggest picture here, look at the volcanic ask in the air, look at earth quakes that have shifted land masses and tilted the earth, look at solar flares and the fact that the sun is getting hotter, look at the poles swaping ends, etc etc etc ! There are so many reasons for the climate to change as its all normal, it has been happening sence the first two bits of dust got stuck together zillions of years ago ! Sure man may have a bit part in the climate change but the way I see it.....mans part is equal to Mrs. Millers 3rd grade class having all the boys go weewee in the ocean ! We could stop burning oils and do all kinds of stuff that 'COULD' be adding to the climate change .....but it will never stop changing, change happens and there is nothing mankind can do to stop it !
    IMHO ..................

    March 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jones

    Climate change is part of "global warming". I thought the name was changing so people could clearly acknowledge that.

    March 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. bob

    What a bunch of paranoid folk here. When the weather was exceedingly cold last year, anyone that dared state that this was unusual considering global warming was quickly silenced by the GW fanatics saying weather had nothing to do with 'climate change." So why is warm weather any different now? More to the point, if the GW fanatics are right, then there is already nothing we can do, so why spend your time fraking out about it? Personally, I like 70 in March, whatever the cause. So unless you have a way to ascertain for certain that a) climate change is indeed causally related to human activity, b) that climate change MUST be catastrophic, and c) you personally can stop it if it all of these things, I suggest relaxing just a tad and attempting to enjoy something that might, just might, have a few positive benefits.

    March 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      You sir are are living in a rationalized ignorant world

      March 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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