While March has been known to come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, the rest of this month has potential to be mostly lamb.
That’s at least temperature-wise, with Wednesday’s record-breaking 68 degrees at Long Island MacArthur Airport to be followed by highs in the 60s through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
With March a transition month, often featuring “a roller-coaster of warm and cool temperatures,” the “month so far is not showing signs of dipping,” said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University. Still, March being March, she said, “that wouldn’t rule out a cold blast” at some point.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center sees a 70 percent to 80 percent chance for above-normal temperatures, as opposed to below or right at normal, March 16 through 22. Astronomical spring arrives on March 20 — as opposed to meteorological spring, which runs from March 1 through the end of May.
To a lesser degree — with a 50 percent to 60 percent chance — the entire month is tilting toward above normal, the prediction center says. March’s average monthly temperature is 39.6 degrees, according to data the Weather Service has maintained since 1984 for the airport.
Though a cold day here or there can’t be ruled out, along with possible rain storms, the month overall is expected to come in 2 or 3 degrees above normal, said Alyson Hoegg, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, based in Pennsylvania.
All this comes on the heels of the warmest meteorological winter on record, with December 12 degrees above normal and a bevy of broken records for daily highs and warmest lows.
A strong El Nino got much of the credit for the mild winter, but Spaccio said its effects for spring in the Northeast were not so clear-cut, with other factors, such as long-term trends and soil conditions, playing roles. El Nino is a climate pattern that starts with a warming of the Pacific and affects weather worldwide.
Just as a reminder, last March came in at 4.1 degrees below normal, while presenting the area with a record 19.7 inches of snow. In the waning days of the month in 2015, some areas of the Island saw up to 5 inches.