|Visitors walk through cherry trees in blossom by the Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. [GALLO/GETTY]
It had been long and well-predicted, but even so, the number of temperature records broken during the current spell of warm weather across northeastern parts of the United States and Canada has been exceptional.
Records have been smashed from Louisiana in the south, to Minnesota in the north, and from Montana in the west to New Brunswick and Quebec in the east.
The extent and duration of the warm weather is possibly unprecedented since extensive weather records became available in North America during the late nineteenth century.
According to HAMweather, the warm weather was responsible for more than 1300 temperature records being broken during the week ending 20 March.
On Tuesday, Chicago recorded a maximum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (C), a March record. Of course, records are there to be broken. What is perhaps more remarkable is that a temperature of at least 26C has been recorded in the Windy City every day since 15 March.
To place that statistic into context, we need to use the North Americans’ preferred temperature scale: Fahrenheit.
Typically, in the month of April Chicago would expect to record just one day with a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7C). Only once in the last 140 years of weather observations has Chicago seen as many 80 degree days as it has recorded this March, according to the National Weather Service.
Chicago is not alone. The maximum temperature of 28C in Minneapolis on Tuesday beat the city’s previous record set back in 1910.
In Rochester, Minnesota, on 18 March, the minimum temperature of 16C was one degree higher than the previous maximum record March temperature.
In the north, Caribou, Maine, recorded its earliest 20C day on record whilst in the south, Atlanta has reached 27C on seven consecutive days, breaking a record that stretches back to 1907.
The effect of the warm weather on the country’s winter snow and ice has been dramatic. Marquette, Michigan saw one metre of snowpack melt in just six days.
The warm weather has caused spring to arrive across the east several weeks early with hay fever sufferers reporting severe conditions as trees and grasses begin to pollinate
Whilst the record-breaking weather has been on the southern side of the polar front jet, to the north of that jet it has been a very different story. Much of the Pacific Northwest has seen outbreaks of snow and unseasonably wet and chilly weather has extended as far south as California.
Between the warm and cooler air masses a line of very heavy rain has caused flooding concerns across the Mississippi river valley and Plains states with flooding and tornadoes reported in Texas and Louisiana.
The warm weather is expected to clear slowly eastwards over the next two days. Before that happens weather experts estimate that up to 60 U.S. and Canadian cites could break yet more temperature records before the weather returns to ‘normal’ towards the end of the month.