Nearly 6,000 United States weather records–in large part due to the unusually warm temperatures–have been broken thus far in March.
March, normally known for the climax of the college basketball season and the last vestiges of cold, gloomy weather, has instead been one of the warmest on record. For example, Detroit reached a whopping 86 degrees on March 22; the previous record was 85 degrees set just 24 hours prior.
Heat waves are normal events across the country whether in January or July. However, Jeff Masters at Weather Underground has done analysis that shows how remarkable this month has been. From the Washington Post:
"...the analysis showed that Michigan experienced temperatures that were 4 - 5 climatological anomalies warmer than average (4-sigma to 5-sigma), the type of extreme that occurs between once every 43 years and once every 4779 years."
There are two secondary oddities that stand out in this weather puzzler. First: This heat wave only extends East of the Rockies; the western United States has been cooler than average this winter. Second, the rest of the world has also been cooler than average over the last 6 months, which leads to further questions as to why North America has been the hot plate of the world.