COLUMBIA — March 2012 was the warmest on record for Columbia since record-keeping began in 1890, and the month's uncharacteristic warmth radiated into the beginning of April as well.
The month's average temperature of 59.7 degrees broke the previously held 1946 record of 56, measured at Columbia Regional Airport.
The high temperature in Columbia reached or exceeded 80 during eight days throughout the month, tying the previous record set in 1910.
The heat wave was felt across the United States, as more than 6,000 daily record highs were tied or broken during the month of March, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
International Falls, Minn., which has been called the "Icebox of the Nation," tied or set local daily record highs for almost two weeks from March 10 to 22.
Overall, the 2011-12 winter season was milder than the 2010-11 season, which ranked as the second-snowiest winter on record in Columbia.
During the first week of February 2011, Columbia was in the throes of a blizzard that set a record for snowfall in a 24-hour period. During the same 24-hour period this year, Columbia tied the 46-degree record high minimum temperature set in 1990.
After this year's record-setting March, April also started with record-breaking heat.
The temperature peaked at 89 about 3:55 p.m. Monday at Columbia Regional Airport, breaking the 85-degree record held for April 2 since 1946.
Cooler temperatures forecast for the end of the week are more indicative of seasonal averages. In light of this year's unpredictable weather, it is yet to be seen what the rest of April has in store.