MARCH (WEATHER) MADNESS: Four cities in East-Central Florida had a record warm March, while overall the state racked up big precipitation deficits. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)
Orlando had its hottest March on record, finishing the month with an average temperature — considering all of the daily highs and lows — of 73.9 degrees. That beat the previous March record of 73.7 set 113 years ago in 1907.
The city had nine days with temperatures of 90 or above, capped off with a high of 93 last Saturday, March 28. Seven of the last eight days of the month were 90 or better.
Leesburg, Sanford and Daytona Beach also had their warmest March, the National Weather Service in Melbourne said on Facebook today. Melbourne had its sixth warmest March, and its second driest, with just a tenth of an inch falling all month. The driest March in Melbourne was in 1974.
Naples also had its warmest March with an average temperature of 75.6 degrees, the National Weather Service in Miami announced this morning. That beat the previous record of 75.5 set in 2003.
West Palm Beach and Miami had their second-warmest March, and Fort Lauderdale had its third-warmest March.
But the lack of rain was actually a bigger story than the unusual warmth last month. Several cities around the peninsula had no rain at all, or just a trace — not enough to measure.
Lakeland, for example, had no precipitation — not even enough to smudge your car’s windshield — for a rainfall deficit of 3.89 inches
Tampa reported just a trace of precip, leaving the city 3.03 inches short for March rainfall. Temperatures in Tampa, however, were 7 degrees above average.
Naples also recorded a trace of rain, for a March precipitation deficit of 2.38 inches.
Unusually dry weather took hold in Southeast Florida as well, and in the panhandle, Tallahassee turned in a precipitation shortfall of 3.72 inches, even though the city picked up 2.22 inches of rain in March. More surprising, Tallahassee ended the month 8.9 degrees above average, the largest temperature anomaly at a major reporting site in the state.
Also of note: Vero Beach set a daily record Tuesday with a 93 degree high, which also happened to tie the warmest temperature ever recorded in Vero Beach for the month of March. The record was previously set on March 20 2003.
And Fort Pierce’s high Tuesday of 93 broke a record for the date and tied the record for the warmest temperature ever recorded in March — set 112 years ago on March 24, 1908.
ELSEWHERE, MARCH WENT OUT WITH SOME SIZZLE: Miami set a record high with 92, beating the old record of 91 set in 2011. Jacksonville set a new record high with 89, beating the old mark of 88 set in 2016. Daytona Beach hit 90 on Tuesday, which tied a record high set back in 1954.
Sanford set a record high with 93, and a record warm low with 68.
Record warm minimum temps were set or tied at Orlando (70); Key West (79); Marathon (78); West Palm Beach (75); and Naples (73).
RAINFALL REPORT: Some of the rain associated with this week’s cold front fell before midnight, which added to March’s meager totals, but precipitation totals in South and Central Florida occurred after midnight so will go into the April column.
Rainfall totals were mostly in the quarter to third-of-an-inch range around the peninsula, but a CoCoRaHS observer in northwestern Collier County reported a 24-hour total of 3.07 inches. In North-Central Florida, an observer in Alachua County near Gainesville reported 1.07 inches.
Officially, the highest 24-hour rainfall total through 7 p.m. Tuesday was 0.78 of an inch in Tallahassee.
THE NEW APRIL FORECAST, released Tuesday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, calls for above normal precipitation in the Florida panhandle, but equal chances for above, below, or normal rainfall around the Florida peninsula.
Above average temperatures continue to be the rule.