March 2012

Temperatures
(all temperatures in degrees Celsius; all averages 1961 – 1990)

Mean daily maximum: 13.7
Difference from average: +5.3

Mean daily minimum: 3.0
Difference from average: +1.4

Mean air temperature: 8.4
Difference from average: +3.4

Absolute maximum: 21.8 (28th)

Absolute minimum: -2.5 (6th)

Mean grass minimum: 0.0

Absolute grass minimum: -6.2 (6th)

Number of ground frosts: 17

Number of air frosts: 3

Mean soil temperature at 30cm depth: 8.1

Mean soil temperature at 100cm depth: 7.6

Rainfall
(all totals in millimetres; all averages 1961 – 1990)

Total for the month: 15
Difference from average: -36.2

Percentage of the average: 29%

Wettest day: 6.2 (4th)

Number of rain days (>0.25mm): 6

Number of wet days (=> 1mm): 4

3-month total rainfall to 31st March: 63.8
Difference from average: -108.2

6-month rainfall total to 31st March: 191.0
Difference from average: -155.2

12-month rainfall total to 31st March: 524.8
Difference from average: -124.2

Humidity
(Averages for 09:00 hours GMT)

Relative Humidity: 78%

Sunshine
(all averages 1961 – 1990)

Total for the month: 180.5 hours
Difference from average: +75.0

Percentage of the average: 149%

Mean daily sunshine: 5.8 hours
Difference from average: +2.4

Sunniest day: 10.9 hours (26th)

Number of days with no recorded sunshine: 0

Cumulative total sunshine since 1st January: 350.8 hours
Difference from average: +126.1

ISSN1350-483

Comments on March 2012
This was the second warmest March on record at Durham since 1850 (8.4°C). Only March 1938 has been warmer (9.2°C). The mean daily maximum temperature was the warmest for March (records from 1900), the figure of 13.7°C easily beating the 1930 value of 13.1°C. Mean minimum temperatures were less remarkable, although still well above average, 17th equal highest since 1900. The absolute maximum was 0.1°C higher than that recorded in 1965 but available records only go back to 1962 so I cannot be sure this is a record for March. Notwithstanding the high temperatures, there were still an above-average number of ground frosts (17), but only three air frosts.

March was also a very dry month, 21st driest since 1850, the driest March at Durham since 2003. The driest March on record is 1953 with only 1.3mm! The 3-month total is the 39th lowest for any consecutive 3 months since 1850 (n = 1945) and the 6-month (72nd lowest) and 12-month (222nd lowest) running totals are also well below average, if not yet quite so extreme. It is clear that Durham reflects the rest of Eastern England in suffering from a developing drought, although in our case we have the close proximity of the Pennine reservoirs to help us out, compared to East Anglia. This is driest start to a calendar year at Durham since 1973 and the 8th driest start since 1850.

This was the 4th sunniest March since 1882, and the highest total since 2003.

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University