Publication Date April 1, 2020 | Washington Post

When spring came early: Washington just completed its fifth-warmest March on record

United States
Climate change is causing warmer and earlier springs
Cherry blossoms in the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda, Md., on March 27. Credit: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing temperatures in all seasons and leading to shorter winters and earlier and warmer springs

Article Excerpt: March 2020 probably won’t be remembered for its weather. Nonetheless, the enjoyably mild weather and early arrival of springtime perhaps offered some solace as the novel coronavirus changed our way of life.

Highs reached the 70s on about a quarter of the days, with the first instance of 80-degree weather since October on March 20, tying a record high for the date. The month’s average temperature of 53.2 degrees was 6.4 degrees warmer than normal and the fifth warmest on record.

The unusually mild weather helped the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom on March 20, a tie for the third-earliest date on record.

According to the USA National Phenology Network, which tracks the timing of seasonal events in plants, spring arrived in Washington about three weeks early based on the emergence of trees and flowers.


Thirty of the 31 days saw highs reach at least 50 degrees, tied with 1977 for the most on record. Only five days during the month were cooler than normal.


Notice that three of the five warmest Marches on record have occurred since 2012.


March marked the third abnormally warm month in a row in Washington. Temperatures in January and February were 6.4 (12th warmest) and 4.8 degrees (7th warmest) above normal, respectively.

This year so far ranks as the second warmest on record in Washington this decade and over the entire period of record (dating back to the late 1800s), only trailing the anomalously warm 2012.