Summer-like heat made spring 2012 warmest on record

Summer-like heat waves throughout the past three months have made it the warmest meteorological spring on record at BWI Marshall Airport. A stubborn rainfall deficit made it the sixth-driest spring on record, to boot.

Unseasonably hot temperatures struck each month, with high temperatures of 81 in March, 90 in April and 93 in May. Normal highs are in the 50s in March, 60s in April and 70s in May. Compound those anomalies, and the spring warmth record isn't a surprise.

This, of course, follows the sixth-mildest winter on record. 

Altogether, the warmth this year has gotten the allergy season off to an early start, contributed to massive algae blooms and fish kills in the Chesapeake Bay, and encouraged earlier-than-normal plant and crop growth.

The average temperature this meteorological spring, from March 1 to May 31, was 59.3 degrees, just narrowly edging the previous record set in 1945. Many of the single-day high temperature records with which we flirted this spring were set that year. But those records were safe -- a 90-degree high April 16 tied a record from 2002, but otherwise, highs weren't extreme.

Here are the rankings for the warmest springs on record at BWI, and their average temperatures:

  1. 2012: 59.3
  2. 1945: 59.1
  3. 1921: 58.8
  4. 1942: 58.3
  5. 1977: 58.2
  6. 1946: 58.1
  7. 1991: 57.7
  8. 2010: 57.7
  9. 1871: 57.3
  10. 1929: 57.3 

The rain gauge at BWI totaled 5.74 inches this spring, more than 5 inches below the typical 11 inches for the season. It was the driest spring since 2006, when 5.05 inches of rain fell.

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