Mildest March 20 in over 140 years

The St. Thomas University courtyard was full last week, with volleyballs flying and summer dresses flowing. At 26 degrees, the sunshine was infectious.

The warm temperatures made the mid-March week special, shattering records across the Maritimes, but why?

Environment Canada meteorologist Claude Côté says the especially warm weather began in the west with a long wave of low pressure that extended south through Arizona and even down towards Mexico.

“This allows ‘hot dry’ air from Texas to move up over the Great Lakes and then drift across the Maritimes,” he said in an email. “This set up [came to an end] on Thursday afternoon when a cold front approached from the north.”

Since then, temperatures have been moderate – but still above normal.

In New Brunswick, except for communities along the Fundy coast, temperatures were 15 to 20 degrees above normal, breaking century-old records by more than five degrees. On Tuesday, March 20, every community but Saint John set a new record high temperature.

Fredericton recorded 23.9 degrees, demolishing the old record of 15.5 degrees set in 2010.

“The old record was 2010, but one has to keep in mind that we have been gathering data since 1871,” Côté said. “So this was the mildest March 20 since 1871.”

And students aren’t complaining. Facebook statuses on Tuesday through Thursday were all about the hot weather – and how they didn’t want it to go away.

“Twenty-two degrees today and expecting three degrees tomorrow…awesome and away goes the flip flops,” said one disappointed status setter.