UPDATED 03/22/12 11:50 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — In what will come as no surprise, this March, by far, is already ranking as the warmest on record.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says the average temperature for this March so far has been 53.7 degrees.
The average takes into account all the highs and lows – from the string of highs well into the 80s over the past week to the long-forgotten days in the beginning of the month. Slippery, biting snow fell across the area back on March 4, and temperatures were in the teens in some areas the following morning.
Prior to this year, the warmest Marches on record were in 1910 and 1945, when the average temperature was 48.6 degrees.
But believe it or not, we have not seen the warmest March day on record this year. On March 29, 1986, the temperature rocketed to 88 degrees. This March comes up 1 degree short, with the hottest day so far being Wednesday, when it was 87 degrees.
That figure is a tie with March 31, 1981, when the temperature also reached 87.
The summerlike temperatures this March cap off a winter in which a palm tree might not have seemed out of place in Chicago. While the winter of 2010-2011 had one of the highest snowfall totals on record – including the Feb. 1-2 blizzard that dumped 21.2 inches of snow on the area – this past winter has seen some of the lowest snow totals.
Last year, we saw a total of 57 inches of snow. This year, we have only had 19.8 – over an inch less than the total for last year’ s blizzard alone.
On Thursday, the 80s will be moving on their way for a while, as a new system produces rain.
But Glaros says the temperature could tie or break a record Thursday before the clouds and rain roll in. The temperature at O’Hare International Airport at 7:20 a.m. was 77 degrees; the record for the day is 79.
The official forecast high for the day is 79 degrees, but in Northwest Indiana, where the rain will come last, the 80s are likely Thursday.
The temperatures drop through the coming week – at least for a while. On Friday, the high is 65, on Saturday 60, and on Sunday 59. But come Monday, the temperature rises to 66, and on Tuesday, we’re back to 75 degrees.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service warns that even though you might have been inspired to mount your air conditioner in the window this week, another freeze remains likely.
The average date for the last spring freeze is not usually seen until the middle or end of April. While the earliest date for a temperature of 32 or below is March 16, the latest is May 25.
A hard freeze of 28 or below has been seen as late as May 10.
And while the people living in 1910 saw a March so warm that the average temperature was 48.6 degrees, they also saw snow on June 2.