By DAVID GREEN
That’s how much above average the temperature was in March. The exclamation point is George Isobar’s.
Isobar, Morenci’s recorder of temperatures and precipitation for the National Weather Service, was surprised when he saw the number.
“Actually, I was doubly surprised,” Isobar said. “I’ve never seen a number that big for the departure from average, neither on the warm or the cold side. At the same time, I thought it might be a little more.”
After all, he said, there were four days in a row in the 80s, preceded by five days in the 70s. The temperature made it into the 70s twice more later in the month.
“I suppose the reason it wasn’t any bigger is that there were actually five days that were colder than average,” he said, and that included the final two days of the month when it felt like winter was returning.
At the end of March, there were four mornings in the low 30s and one as low as 27°.
“We never did get a return to snowfall,” Isobar said, “but there was definitely frost.”
Those four days in the 80s each set records at the National Weather Service office in Toledo. Two of the previous records were set in 1921 and one in 1938.
Records were also established March 16 and 17 when the mercury hit 78° and 77°.
“The final day of February also set a new record for warmth,” Isobar said. “I guess that should have been our warning for what was to come.”
The coldest day in March was recorded on the 10th at 20°—one of just four days that produced a temperature in the 20s.
Isobar said total snowfall came in at three inches and total precipitation at 3.69 inches which is close to an inch about normal.
“In addition to the extra warm days, another oddity was number of thunderstorms during March,” Isobar said. “We had five and sometimes we have summer months with that many or fewer.”
The final thunderstorm of the month, last Friday, also produced hail.
Miscellaneous data from the Toledo weather service office shows total snowfall for the season measuring only 20.8 inches, which is 15.4 inches below normal and less than half of the previous year.
“I talked with one of our local snowbirds who recently returned from the south,” Isobar said. “He claims that it always snows at least once after he gets back in Morenci. He says it’s never failed. Maybe this is the year that will break the streak. It would be disappointed to have snowflakes after we’ve had so much early spring.”
Generally there’s at least a trace of snow in April, Isobar said, and there’s always a temperature in the 20s.
“We were spoiled last month,” he said, “but we certainly haven’t yet had our final frost.”