Average temps around Tampa four to eight degrees below normal for March

Tampa NWS: Month of March much colder than normal

TAMPA - Finally. The first week of April promises highs near 80, and a chance to put away the sweaters and break out the swim suits. Of course, we've heard that a few times this winter, only to be shocked into shivering submission by Mother Nature's roller coaster ride that extended winter right through the month of March.

Meteorologists categorize winter as the months of December, January and February.  Spring includes March, April and May. The weather is supposed to be warming up by March.

The vernal equinox is in March, which this year fell on the 20th. But apparently Mother Nature didn't get the memo. On the first full day of astronomical spring (March 21) the temperature in Tampa never even cracked the 70s.

In fact, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Ruskin report that March 2013 will end up as one of the top ten coldest in the Bay area.

And for the first time in over 80 years, March was colder than all of the previous four months.

In other words, the first month of spring was colder than all the months of winter, plus the last month of fall!

As of the 30th, the average March temperature in Tampa was 61.4 degrees. That's close to six degrees below normal and easily one of the top ten coldest since record keeping began in 1890. St. Petersburg faired only slightly better with an average March temperature of 61.9 degrees, still 6.1 degrees below average.

Forecasters say don't blame them. Blame the Arctic Oscillation. It's a climate pattern that usually keeps cold air bottled up north where it belongs. But some years, like this one, large oscillations occur which pull that bone-chilly air out of the Arctic and contribute to unseasonably cold weather down south.

It won't be long before you'll be yearning for some cooler weather. Looking ahead, NOAA forecasters predict above-normal temperatures for Florida for the next two months, with highs climbing to near 90 by the middle of May.

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