On Wednesday we had another record-breaking day across northcentral Wisconsin. That makes 8 record highs in a row and 10 record highs during the last 12 days. Today will probably be the end of the record streak as more clouds and a few light showers are moving through the area. Even though the record highs are probably done, temps will remain well above normal in the 50s and 60s through the end of the month and that means we will very likely set the record for the warmest March ever (in Wausau). The old record for the warmest March occurred in 1910 when the average high temperature was 43.3. So far this year the average temperature for the month is 45.1. The way things look now, the average (mean) temperature could rise up to around 50 before the month is done, so we will likely beat the old record by a few degrees. It is interesting to note that the old record is from a time period which was more known for record lows than record highs. It goes to show that the weather can be surprising. There was a record warm March over a 100 years ago when the climate was cooler. I suppose we could see some record cold at some point in the near future, even though the climate is warmer now. Just look at what happened in central Europe this past Winter.
Back to the topic at hand, the record warm March. Some people have been wondering if the very warm March (and very mild Winter) will lead to a blisteringly hot Summer. In order to find out, I took a look back at the weather records. We have some hand written records that go back to the mid 1970s here at the weather office. They are good for seeing the general trends for different months and years, so I “eye-balled” the highs and lows for months of March for the past 40 years. Then I browsed through the May through August time periods to see if any of those months were hot during the same years as the “hot” March. There were 12 above normal months of March in our records and only two of them were followed by what I would call a “hot” Summer. In 1987, the very warm March was followed by a May, June, and July that were 5 degrees above normal. In 1995, the warm March was followed by a hot Summer. As I mentioned earlier this week, 1995 was the year when we had 9 days in a row of 90 degree weather in the middle of June and it was the last year that we officially experienced 100 degrees in Wausau. The temp rose up to 102 for one day in the middle of July.
There were 3 different warm months of March that were followed by a little above normal summertime temps. There were 4 warm months of March followed by normal or below normal Summer temps. There were three other years where a warm March was followed by at least one hot month later in the Summer, but overall temps were close to normal the rest of the time. So as a rough estimate, it would seem that there would be about a 50/50 chance of having some hot weather later in the year when we have a “hot” March.
For a more rigorous calculation I looked back at the top 20 warmest months of March we have in the record books for Wausau (can be viewed in the Wausau weather book here). I compared these to the top 20 warmest months of May, June, July, and August. It turns out that 10 of the top 20 warm months of March were followed by at least one month later in the warm season (May through August) that was also in the top 20 for warmth.
Some examples: The current record-holder for the warmest March ever is 1910. During that year we also had the 14th warmest June and the 18th warmest July. More recently in 2000 we noted the 2nd warmest March in Wausau and that same year we had the 20th warmest May and the 19th warmest August. In 1995 we had the 15th warmest March and that was followed by the 3rd warmest June and the 4th warmest August.
Using the monthly records we once again find that about 50% of the time, a very warm March is followed by some hot (above normal) weather later in the Summer. 50/50. It figures, right? Many people remark that forecasting the weather is like flipping a coin. It really isn’t but in this case the statistics just happen to fall 50/50. So what do I think? I am going to err on the warm side for the Summer forecast. I think one or two of the months during the period from May through August will find their way into the top 20. Officially, the CPC forecasts that we discussed earlier this week are not picking up any direction toward warmer or colder temps, putting us in the “equal chances” for either or. I think the odds are a little higher that we will have continued warmer than normal conditions at some point during the May through August time period because the general global trend has been warmer over the past few decades. The ocean temps are warmer. The ice in the arctic is thinner. These things matter, and I think tilt the odds toward warmer weather here in Wisconsin as well.
Another thing that will be interesting to see is if March will be warmer than some other months this year. The mean temp for April is 44 and for May it is 57. If for some reason we end up with a very cool pattern in May, it is conceivable that the mean temperature could be as low as 50 which would put it on par with March. There have been 10 different months of May in Wausau that have had a mean temp around 50 or lower.
And now for something completely different. Have you seen the Human BirdWings video? It is stirring up a bunch of controversy. Is it an Internet fake? Has the person actually achieved flight by flapping wings? You can read about the effort a little more in depth here. Seeing is believing, except on the Internet. If I saw it in person, then I would believe it. Since I have not seen it in person, I don’t yet. A couple of interesting points about the physics of the situation: some people have calculated that it might be possible with the motors he used combined with human power AND a 10 to 15 mph head wind. The flight would be possible based on energy calculations alone. I didn’t notice a whole lot of wind in the video. Also, it would be difficult to stand still in a 10 to 15 mph wind with such large wings attached to your body. At 15 mph, you might even be knocked over. Of course, birds can fly with no wind. If he is using correct flapping motion, then there would not be as much need for a head wind.
Another aspect that hints toward fake is that the video is dis-jointed. For such a spectacular achievement, you would think they would have recorded the entire flight from different angles and posted the entire videos. You would think they would have brought more witnesses. They apparently achieved the flight in a public park in the middle of a city in Europe. How come no one else was around and is now talking about it, posting pictures on facebook and such?
In the end, I hope it is real. The set-up doesn’t look too expensive. It would be fun to try it out. What do you think?
Have a good Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under Heat, Records, Technology
This post was written by jloew on March 22, 2012