The warmest it has ever been in March in Indiana on a statewide average, put into one average temperature in degrees F, averaging highs and lows, was 52.1 degrees. That's based on data going back to 1895. Some of the early data is suspect, but data since 1930 is considered more reliable.
The record did belong to 1946, when March averaged 52.1 degrees F statewide. The new record set last month in 2012 is 54.4 degrees F, notes Ken Scheeringa, assistant Indiana State climatologist. That beats the previous record by 2.3 degrees.
"In terms of weather and what weathermen look at, that's a big deal," he says. "Normally if the weather betas out a historic record to set the all-time high, it's by a tenth or two. We're talking more than two full degrees. That's an incredible amount."
You may have heard different reports for different cities. In Indianapolis, weathermen reported that this March beat the old records by about 4 degrees. While temperature is fairly consistent, much more than rainfall totals, there can be differences, especially in seasons like the transitional winter to spring period when temperature variations are expected anyway. Scheeringa's phone is ringing with various requests for different cities for March comparisons to normal and the all-time record. He has researched Columbus, which also set a record. He expects to find that most cities and surrounding areas in Indiana set records for March vs. the all-time high.
In terms of normal, the March numbers are 13.7 degrees above normal. Again, in weather terms, that's a tremendous variation which is rarely seen.
The result is that by the end of March, about 200 growing degree days accumulated. Often by the end of March, no growing degree days have accumulated. This system is typically used to predict the development of corn and soybeans, but this year it's probably also factoring into why grass, dandelions and trees are leaving out, all so far ahead of normal.