Air temperature
Abnormally cold weather that settled along the coast of the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia at the end of February enhanced its freezing strength at the beginning of March. In the first decade of the month, the anomalies of decade-averaged air temperatures from the Kola Peninsula to Chukotka amounted to -2…-8°, and new daily temperature minima reaching -45° were recorded in a number of locations, or -50° in the Magadan Region. In the rest of Russia, March started with abnormally warm weather accompanied by new daily temperature maxima in the Middle and Lower Volga, in the south of the ETR, of Yakutia and of the Far East.
In the second decade, heat intensified and drove away anomalous colds from almost all the Arctic region: instead, the records of warmth were now set over there, – as well as in the Volga region, Yakutia, the Far East and the Trans-Baikal where they continued to occur since the previous decade.
In the third decade, cold weather in the Kola Peninsula, in the north of Taimyr and partly in Kolyma and Chukotka regained its positions to some extent, but the rest of the country remained under the spell of anomalous heat. New daily temperature maxima were still recorded in the Middle and Lower Volga and in the south of the Far East, and now the Urals and Siberia joined the list.
However, March ended up with frosts in the south of the ETR.
These temperature fluctuations during the month resulted in abnormally high monthly-averaged temperatures in most of Russia (+2…6° or larger anomalies), and March turned out to be somewhat colder than usual in the Far North only.
Considering Russia in overall, its European and Asian territories separately and all its federal districts, the monthly-averaged temperature of March was among the ten top highest in the entire history of meteorological observations, and the second highest in the history of the South Federal District, the Volga Federal District, and the south of the Far Eastern one.
In Japan, Korea and Mongolia, and in the north and north-east of China, March was very warm: its monthly-averaged anomalies of air temperatures were 2-4 or more degrees higher than normal. It was the second warmest March in the history of China where only March of the previous year even warmer.
The temperatures in the countries of South-East Asia and in India were close to normal.
In the Near and Middle East, the monthly-averaged temperatures were about normal in general, but in Israel, in Jordan and especially in Iran, noticeably higher than that (by 2-4°) in some places. Daily temperature maxima in excess of +25° were recorded in the west of Turkey: remarkably, this happened in the first day of March, right after the calendar winter.
But the highest anomalies of average air temperatures (+2-6° and greater) were observed in Central Asia: numerous daily maxima were set to values 3-5° above the previous record-breaking ones in certain places.
March in North Africa was very warm. Its average temperature was ranked the third highest in the history of observations, and exceeded the normal values by 2-4 or more degrees in the north and north-west of the continent.
In Europe, the average air temperature was close to normal, except for the west of the continent where it was two or more degrees higher than normal. A wave of heat covered Spain on the last day of the month, resulting in new daily temperature maxima in Barcelona, Malaga and other locations. In some places, these maxima exceeded the 30-degree mark. In terms of monthly averages, the weather can only be considered cold in the north of the continent, namely, in the Scandinavian countries, in Ireland and in the north of the UK. There, the monthly-averaged temperatures were two or more degrees lower than the normal value, and the unprecedented low air temperatures were recorded in places.
In North America, March was abnormally cold in large parts of the US and Canada. The month in the north-western United States and in the south-western Canada was 2-4 or more degrees colder than usual. The monthly-averaged temperature of March in the US was more than one degree below normal, while in the western states, it was among the top ten lowest ever observed.
March 2023 in the Northern Hemisphere was the second to third warmest in the entire history of observations, i.e., since 1891. March 2020 was equally warm, and March 2016 was the only one even warmer.
In Moscow, the average temperature in March was +1.3°, with an anomaly of +2.0°. This was the 12th result in the meteorological chronicle of the capital.
Sea Surface Temperature
The main event in the World Ocean was the completion of La Niña. La Niña started in August 2020 and lasted for 30 months (with a break in June/July 2021) to become the second longest in the history of observations after La Niña of 1973-1976 which was 36 months in duration. El Niño, a warm episode of the Southern Oscillation, should now begin after the neutral phase. Given that abnormally warm water at the equatorial latitudes has already appeared off the coast of South America, a short duration of the neutral phase may now be predicted.
High positive SST anomalies (up to two or more degrees) were observed in the centre and west of the Pacific Ocean, and negative ones, along the coasts of the US and Canada, as well as in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea in the north.
The average SST of the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere turned out to be very high, and reproduced the absolute maximum for March set in 2004 and repeated in 2005. Negative SST anomalies took place solely along the coast of Canada, to the south of Newfoundland and to the east of Greenland. In the rest of the Ocean, either normal or above-normal monthly-averaged SST was observed. In the Gulf of Mexico and off the US coast, a positive SST anomaly reached two or more degrees. In the Barents, Baltic and Black Seas as well as in the east of the Mediterranean Sea, the SST values were also above-normal.
A lot of atmospheric moisture went to Russia this March. Everywhere apart from a few constituent entities of the Federation in the south of the ETR and Siberia, the normal monthly precipitation values were reached, and noticeably exceeded. Each federal district included republics, territories or regions where the normal amounts were surpassed by 1.5-2.0 or more times. Most precipitation fell in the first half of the month. In Yakutia, in Altai and Krasnoyarsk Territories, and in the constituent entities located in the Russian North, new daily maxima of precipitation totals were reported on a number of occasions. In Primorye, up to the normal monthly amount of rain and snow could accumulate during a single day in some places. The depth of the snow cover in Yakutsk reached 55 cm in the middle of the month, thereby creating the largest snow banks in the history of the city. Heavy rains, with sleet in some places, passed across the south of the ETR at the end of the month.
The weather in most of East Asia was dry. Only in the south-east of China and in Japan did the monthly precipitation totals reach their normal figures.
In South-East Asia, the winter monsoon resulted in overly dry weather, but did not prevent from occasional heavy rains: in the first half of March, they flooded Malaysia and Indonesia, and in the twenties of the month, caused floods in several regions of Thailand.
Heavy downpours hit the Middle East and caused numerous floods in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Jordan, Iran, Yemen and Kuwait. The normal monthly figures in this region were exceeded by 1.5-3.0 times.
In North Africa, rains that were failing during the month led to floods in Ghana, Egypt, Somali, Kenya and Cameroon. In contrast, the north of the continent suffered from a severe drought. In Tunisia, quotes for drinking water were imposed in a number of regions.
Dry weather prevailed in Central Asia and in Iran.
In Europe, Belarus was different from the other countries: it was either flooded with rain on some days, or covered with snow on the others. New daily maxima of precipitation totals were set. Up to 20-50% of the normal monthly precipitation could fell in a single day. As a result, this March was the third wettest in the history of regular meteorological observations since 1945. The normal figures were exceeded by 2.5 times in places. The northern territories of the continent received normal or above-normal precipitation amounts in March, while the southern territories, sub-normal amounts.
A devastating drought that came to Canada was deemed the second worst in the last 45 years by local meteorologists. In a number of agricultural areas, the precipitation amounts since the autumn of the last year were less than a half of their normal figures.
In the west of the US, the monthly precipitation totals were 1.5-3.0 times higher than normal, whereas in the east, they reached the normal amounts or exceeded them in places. Heavy downpours in California caused large-scale floods, landslides and mudflows. This March in California and Nevada was among the top ten wettest in the history of observations. In the north-east, the snow blizzard in the middle of the month inundated New York with snow, creating snow banks up to a metre high. In Dominican Republic and in Columbia, showers led to floods and landslides. At the same time, a drought was observed in Cuba.
In Moscow, the monthly precipitation total was 67 mm. This amounted to 171% of the normal figure and awarded the month with the seventh position in the meteorological chronicle for March. One fifth of the annual precipitation total accumulated in the capital during the first quarter of this year.
* The air temperature anomalies have been calculated basing on the normal values for 1991-2020, and the anomalies of precipitation totals, basing on the normal values for 1961-1990. The latter does not apply to Moscow where the normal values for 1991-2020 have been used.
Hydrometcentre of Russia