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. anon

    well, let's see, it's hotter on mars, venus, mercury, saturn, jupiter, pluto, neptune, uranus, the moon... you know why? THE SUN IS HOTTER! Also, all those temperature rises on the other planets, yeah in complete correlation with Earth's "rise" in temperature. Also, the center point of the weather circulation center is now in the middle of Siberia and circling more SW to NE instead of the normal West to East. You can see that plain as day on the polar weather satellites, if you cared enough to look.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kenton

      Sorry, but anybody who thinks the temperatures on Neptune, Uranus and Jupiter is getting warmer doesn't know what they are talking about. Neptune circles the sun once every 164 or so years. So summer on Neptune is at least 40 years long, we have only been able to study temperatures on the planet for the last 70 years. So no one can tell if Neptune is warming, the same can be said for Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn. As for Mars there is really not enough evidence to prove it is warming, recent studies have suggested the current warmer temperature may be due to decreases in Martian dust storm. Oh, and the Martian temperature has NOT correlated with temperature increases on earth. I don't have a clue where people are getting all of this misinformation about the other planets warming, but whoever is feeding it to you is lying to you.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vatoloke

    Can't complain here in Mizzery where we got to stoke up the grill on the deck for some rib-eyes while weaing shorts, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirt. The mango daiquiris were super also.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Thank you for not going into anymore detail on what you were wearing . I'm sure I've seen better legs on tables .

      March 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      You are sure going to be complaining if we end up with a massive drought and ensuing famine!

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

    1 billion automobiles on the road worldwide, Countless unregulated factories worldwide, and the numbers are growing, deforestation-that is the worlds carbon scrubbers of the air we need to breathe. Naw, humans could not possibly do a single blessed thing to affect the weather-really??? Even so, we have climate change-we must deal with it, regardless of cause. I suspect insurance companies will get tired of the collateral damage claims that will suck up their profit margins; some are already finding ways to deny claims.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOMBO ©

    Solar flares would be a big deal if you lived on the sun. But then, you'd have other problems.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jethro starling

    Quit making fun of me or I'll tell Mom.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brownstain

    You'll never convince the 99% in this country who don't want to give up their gas toys that climate change is real.
    The ocean will be lapping up on Central park, and the four wheelers and Hummers will be running in circles with beer cans flying out the window and morons screeching "Gee Haw"

    March 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 20+ over normal

    The DC region has had highs a good 20 or more over normal ranges on and off for a month. Not one or two days. It might be fun to say "haha 70 feels gooooooooood!" but if you take a second and think about what it's gonna be in July, you start to get a little worried. The last two years have been disgustingly hot. Can't wait to see what this summer has in store.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Confused

      Our last two summers have been much cooler and rainier than normal. I say bring on the sun and heat. Dry my bottom out!

      March 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karl DiGiacomo

    Did you take your meds this morning?

    March 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Burbank

    The only way to reverse this is for people to stop having so many kids, NOW!! This is all due to pollution caused by overpopulation.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Burbank

    All this is due to overpopulation and the pollution it causes.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Confused

      Heres an idea, volunteer for service in Afghanistan. Wander out into the desert and the Taliban will be happy to reduce the worlds population by 1.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill C

      Nonsense. The population control crowd are only step closer to the edge of the cliff then the climate change crowd. China has great population control (though infant genocide) and they are much bigger polluters then we are. We have enough unused land to incur a doubling of our population without consequence.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jethro Tull

    Took a sad song of one sweet evening
    I smiled and quickly turned away.
    It's not easy singing sad songs
    but still the easiest way I have to say.

    So when you look into the sun
    and see the things we haven't done
    oh was it better then to run
    than to spend the summer crying.
    Now summer cannot come anyway.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hey jethro

    From your own wiki ref:
    Solar output is nearly, but not quite, constant. Variations in total solar irradiance were too small to detect with technology available before the satellite era. Its variance is about 1%, but the more interesting part is effects of solar storms, and the variance due to the earth's orbit... which is about 6.9%. Now add in the earth's orbit precession.. and the maximum irradiance occurs over different parts of the earth as years go by.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aqualung

    Sitting on a park bench
    eyeing little girls with bad intent.
    Snot running down his nose
    greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
    Drying in the cold sun
    Watching as the frilly panties run.
    Feeling like a dead duck
    spitting out pieces of his broken luck.

    *No point in quoting one without another....*

    March 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Do you still remember
      December's foggy freeze
      when the ice that
      clings on to your beard is
      screaming agony?

      March 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And you sn atch your rattling last breaths
      with deep-sea-diver sounds,
      and the flowers bloom like
      madness in the spring.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. POD

    Hey I live in the Northeast.......climate change is working for me far good...... We might have 'beach front property' shortly

    March 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BOMBO ©

    When I did a search for "Look into the Sun" lyrics, one of the google results that came back was an astronomy article "DON'T LOOK AT THE SUN"

    Really? Is that the sort of thing they actually need to warn people about?

    March 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Apparently so!

      March 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
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