Early Green-up for Spring 2016
Even though March 2016 has been known for its big temperature swings, you may have noticed that Michiana is sprouting more green than last year at this time. If you have not noticed, here is a visual comparison using satellite images from March 29, 2015 and March 29, 2016, as shown below:
In comparing the two MODIS Satellite images side by side (with 2015 to the left and 2016 to the right), focus on the amount of land that is snow-covered (not to be confused with the wispy cloud cover), versus the land that is brown before regrowth, or green indicating that spring has brought warmth and rain. For 2016, the warmth and rainfall has certainly helped in bringing the "green-up" earlier than last year.
Now lets compare March 2015 calendar high temperatures against March 2016's calendar high temperatures so far.
March 2015 did have a nice warm-up from the 9th - 18th, including reaching 72° on the 16th, but overall, only 13 days were above normal for the month, and the monthly average temperature was 34.4°, nearly 3 degrees shy of the normal temperature for March. As for March 2016, after a frigid start, temperatures have rebounded and 19 days have reached above normal temperatures. As of March 29, 2016, the monthly average temperature was 41.9°, which is nearly 5 degrees above the month's normal temperature. Plus, on top of the warmth for March 2016, the total rainfall for the month so far has reached 3 inches, 0.75 inches above the monthly rainfall. In case you were wondering the rainfall for March 2015, rainfall was well below average with the monthly rainfall only reaching 0.78 inches (1.64 inches below average).
As for the early green-up, beware of planting your favorite spring flowers too early. Frost can still occur with overnight lows at or below 32°F for a few hours. If you hear the ABC57 First Warning Neighborhood Weather Team mention overnight lows at or below 32°, be sure to cover your newly planted spring flowers with a blanket to save them from the frost or bring them inside if possible (typically applies to potted or hanging plants). Below is the average date we see the last frost in Michiana. Surprisingly to some, this can extend into late April and into early May.