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Statistics verify feeling: It really has been warm

2012 off to hottest start in 58 years

  • Zachary-Gross-8-cools-off-on-a-Slip-n-Slide

    Zachary Gross, 8, cools off on a Slip 'n Slide in the yard of a friend's house on Glendale Avenue. Several meteorologists credit the La Nina weather pattern for the lower 48 states' warmest spring on record.

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  • Warmest-cities-of-the-year

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Zachary-Gross-8-cools-off-on-a-Slip-n-Slide

Zachary Gross, 8, cools off on a Slip 'n Slide in the yard of a friend's house on Glendale Avenue. Several meteorologists credit the La Nina weather pattern for the lower 48 states' warmest spring on record.

the blade/lori king
Enlarge | Buy This Image

When our parents and grandparents tell us it was never this hot when they were kids, they aren't lying.

For Toledo, this has been the warmest five-month start of a new year in 58 years. The city's 2012 January to May average temperature was 45.8 degrees. The 1981-2010 average for those months was 40.2 degrees.

Warren Morris, a 20-year roofer who works for Seagate Roofing in Toledo, said he hasn't really noticed the average increase in the temperature but isn't surprised because most spring and summer days are hot for him and his co-workers.

"It's about the same right now," Mr. Morris said from atop a 2½-story roof.

"I am on a roof every day and its gets hotter every day," he said. "If it's 90 degrees on the ground, then it's 110 degrees on the roof. I've been doing this for 20 years, and this is something I'm used to."

Nationally, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statistics show that this spring is the hottest by far in the United States and it is the nation's hottest first five months of the year, the hottest 12 months in a row ever, and the second hottest May on record.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this week that March, April, and May in the lower 48 states beat the oldest spring temperature record by a full 2 degrees — making it the warmest spring on record. The average temperature for the contiguous 48 states from March through May was 57.1 degrees, which is 5.2 degrees above the 20th-century long-term average and 2 degrees warmer than the previous warmest spring, in 1910.

Deke Arndt of NOAA's Climatic Data Center, in an Internet video, said the Midwest and the upper Midwest were "the epicenters for this vast warmth."

A state-by-state NOAA analysis found that 31 states, including Ohio and Michigan, had their warmest spring on record in 2012.

The warmer weather this year contributed to an earlier growing season for farmers as well as an earlier season for grass and weeds and even pests such as ants and mosquitoes.

May was the ninth warmest in Toledo's recorded history and completed the warmest spring on record in Toledo, according to the National Weather Service. The local 55.2-degree average temperature during March, April, and May was nearly 2 degrees warmer than the 53.3-degree average in 1991, said John Mayers, a meteorologist at the weather service's Cleveland office. Seasonal records of that nature go back to 1954, he said.

March in Toledo was a record-shattering month, with a 50.9-degree average daily mean. That was 3.2 degrees warmer than the previous record and 13.3 degrees above the norm. May's 64.9-degree average daily mean at Toledo Express Airport made it the warmest May in Toledo since 1998. It was 2.5 degrees cooler than the monthly record of 67.4 degrees set in May, 1911.

Toledo had 10 daily record-high temperatures before the end of May.

The hot weather news follows a 2011 that was the wettest year in Toledo history; this spring so far has been unusually dry.

According to the NOAA data, Des Moines had the greatest increase in average warmth during the recorded period — shooting up to an average 48.8 degrees for the 2012 January-to-May temperature, compared with 40.8 degrees for the 1981-2010 average for those months. That makes this the warmest period in 73 years for that city.

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The Midwest could face continued above-average warmth this summer, but not as above the norm as the first five months of 2012, said Erik Pindrock, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., a private weather forecasting service in State College, Pa.

"Through June 7 [Toledo] is already an average 5 degrees above the average temperature for this time period," Mr. Pindrock said. "Heading into the longer-range forecast, certainly the warmth is expected to persist at least to a lesser degree through the summer, just maybe not 5 degrees above normal, but at least a few degrees above normal."

Today is expected to be sunny in Toledo with a high of 89 degrees. Sunday is predicted to be warmer, with a high of 90 degrees.

Several meteorologists, Mr. Pindrock included, blame the persistent weather pattern for the heat.

"The big reason we have been seeing the warmth for the past several months into the spring had to do with La Nina weather pattern," he said. "The ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific are cooler than normal, and that influences the jet stream and weather here in the United States, and allows the jet stream to rise mainly to the north."

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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