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March 2006

(all temperatures in degrees Celsius; all averages 1961 – 1990)

Mean daily maximum: 6.4
Difference from average: -1.9

Mean daily minimum: 0.8
Difference from average: -0.7

Mean air temperature: 3.6
Difference from average: -1.4

Absolute maximum: 13.5 (27th)

Absolute minimum: -5.2 (3rd)

Mean grass minimum: -0.3

Absolute grass minimum: -7.5 (3rd)

Number of ground frosts: 18

Number of air frosts: 14

Mean soil temperature at 30cm depth: 4.2

Mean soil temperature at 100cm depth: 5.4

(all totals in millimetres; all averages 1961 – 1990)

Total for the month: 55.8
Difference from average: +4.6

Percentage of the average: 109%

Wettest day: 12.4 (14th)

Number of rain days (>0.25mm): 15

Number of wet days (=> 1mm): 13

3-month total rainfall to 31st March: 107.6
Difference from average: -44

6-month rainfall total to 31st March: 289.6
Difference from average: -34

12-month rainfall total to 31st March: 587.5
Difference from average: -61.5

(Averages for 09:00 hours GMT)

Relative Humidity: 80%

(all averages 1961 – 1990)

Total for the month: 79.4 hours
Difference from average: -26.1

Percentage of the average: 75.3%

Mean daily sunshine: 2.1 hours
Difference from average: -1.3

Sunniest day: 8.1 hours (22nd)

Number of days with no recorded sunshine: 8

Cumulative total sunshine since 1st January: 138.3 hours
Difference from average: -86.4


The mean wind speed: 15.4km/h [8.3kt]
Difference from average: -0.4km/hr

The highest gust: 72km/h [39kt] from 147° at 10:31 GMT on 13th


Comments on March 2006
March was a cold month and, remarkably, the first month of below-average temperatures since October 2004. The mean air temperature was the lowest for March since 1996, and the 37th coldest in 156 years. In this respect, it was not extremely cold therefore, but still most unusual in recent years. Of the 36 colder Marches since 1850, 14 occurred in the 19th century and only 3 have been since 1964. Daytime temperatures were disappointing with a mean maximum -1.9°C below average; the absolute maximum of 13.5°C was the lowest for March since 1987. March daytime temperatures have only been lower on average than in 2006 five times since 1950.

Despite the cold, rainfall was slightly above average. Sunshine was well below average, the 20th dullest March in 123 years of record. Even so, there was less sunshine last March! 2006 is already proving a dull year with 86 hours fewer than the average already, almost one hour each day.

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University