Warm days, cool nights, foggy mornings - March a month of contrasts
Release Date 30 March 2012
Weather scientists in Reading have recorded the highest March temperature since 1965 - but also a record number of foggy starts and the biggest temperature contrasts for more than 50 years.
As well as a lack of rain, adding to the region's acute drought problems, meteorologists recorded the highest March temperature at the University of Reading since 1965 on Wednesday this week (28 March).
Dr Roger Brugge, at the University's Department of Meteorology, said as of Friday March 30, Reading had seen a remarkably dry, sunny and warm start to the spring.
Dr Brugge said: "High pressure has been the outstanding feature of the weather of March 2012. The mean pressure at sea level so far this March has been 1028 mb in Reading - and this high pressure has resulted in mainly dry conditions and a continuation of the dry weather we had for much of the winter.
"The rainfall total for March so far stands at 20.6 mm - or just under half the normal March total. There have been much drier March months recently (in 1990 barely 10 mm fell), but the total rainfall since the start of September 2011 amounts to only 262 mm (10.3 inches) - or a deficit for that period of 135 mm (5.3 inches). This lack of rain has occurred at a time when winter rainfall normally recharges the aquifers and March itself is the eleventh dry month in the last 13.
"Large areas of high pressure, such as the ones we've had this month, tend to be associated with either clear skies and sunny days - or with foggy spells and sometimes low cloud. While the low cloud has not been too much of a problem this March, we have seen plenty of early morning fogs and prolonged sunshine. There have been 8 mornings with fog at 9 a.m. during March - the average figure for March is about one morning with fog, while since 1960 only the seven days with fog in March 1969 came close to this month's total.
"Sunny conditions, coupled with light winds, gave us some very warm afternoons from the 22nd onwards. Of particular note were the 23rd and 24th (when 20.1 C was reached each day) and the 28th (when 21.4 C was recorded. The latter date came close to passing the highest March temperature on record at the University in 1965, when a reading of 22.8 C was noted.
"Interestingly, the same clear skies that gave us long sunny spells and high temperatures also allowed the temperature to drop sharply overnight - such that in the 28th we had a slight air frost (-1.3 C minimum temperature) and a minimum temperature of -4.6 C at grass tip level - gardeners beware! The daily range in temperature of 22.7 degC on the 28th was remarkable - the greatest daily temperature range in March since before 1960."
These notes were compiled by Roger Brugge and are based on daily observations made at the University of Reading climatological station by several colleagues. For more details on the observations of March 2012 contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details or interview requests contact Pete Castle, University of Reading press office, on 0118 378 7391 or email@example.com.