More than 15,000 temperature records were broken in the U.S. last month and the country had its first $1 billion weather disaster of 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 51.1 degrees Fahrenheit (10.6 Celsius), or 8.6 degrees, above the 20th century average and 0.5 degrees more than the previous all-time high set in 1910, according to NOAA.
“Only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012,” according to a NOAA statement. NOAA’s climate records began in 1895.
Temperatures in the heating season, which runs from October to March, were 3.8 degrees above average, making it the second-warmest on record behind 1999-2000, according to NOAA. Natural gas prices have fallen 30 percent this year partially because of the warmer weather and rising production.
Across the U.S., 15,292 warm temperature records were set or tied, according to NOAA.
Every U.S. state set a daily record and 25 states east of the Rocky Mountains had their all-time hottest March, according to NOAA. In addition, 15 states had monthly temperatures in the top 10.
The warm weather also contributed to 223 reported tornadoes in the U.S., more than the 80 normally seen during the month.
A tornado outbreak on March 2 to March 3 across the Ohio Valley and the Southeastern U.S. killed at least 40 people and caused more than $1.5 billion of damage, according to NOAA. It is the first $1 billion weather-related disaster of the year. Last year, the U.S. experienced 14 weather-related disasters that caused $1 billion in damage or more, according to NOAA.
The first three months of 2012 had an average temperature of 42 degrees, which is 6 degrees above average and the warmest on record, according to NOAA. A more detailed analysis of March’s weather will be released at 11 a.m. New York time, according to NOAA.