March sets record for warmth

Not only was March quite warm around here, evidently it was toasty all over the world.

Overall, it was the warmest March on record worldwide, according to the government's National Climate Data Center. The combined land and sea-surface temperature, 56.3 Fahrenheit, was 0.06 degrees above the previous record set in 2002.

The climate data center, whose records date to 1880, also reported that the January through March period was the fourth-warmest such period ever.

One significant exception to the trend was the Southeastern United States, which was relatively cooler. That's a typical pattern during El Nino, an unusual warming of the surface waters over the equatorial Pacific.

El Nino is waning, but it had been one of the stronger episodes on record and it has continued to influence the overall global temperature.

The first three months all ranked in the top six warmest months in the satellite data base, according to John Christy at the University of Alabama. 

March also was the third-warmest month overall in the satellite data set, which dates to December 1978.