COLUMBIA — The heat is on.
According to a release from the National Weather Service, this year has been the warmest calendar year on record since its St. Louis branch began recording temperatures in 1874.
The warm temperatures in March helped increase the average — Columbia had its warmest March by at least 3.6 degrees, the release stated.
The average temperature for Columbia so far this year is 50.0 degrees. The next closest high was in 1946, when the average temperature was 48.1 degrees.
Julie Phillipson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said the increased temperatures can be attributed to a transport of heat upward from the gulf coast region.
Phillipson said it's difficult to determine whether a warm March will impact the temperatures for upcoming seasons.
"There are so many different variables that contribute," she said. "Some of the warmer weather can be attributed to the fact that we're transitioning from spring to summer, and the upper air patterns can impact temperature as well."
But Phillipson said the warmer temperatures, specifically those in March, have led to an earlier growing season for plants.
Although data from the weather service shows that the average temperature has increased over time, Phillipson said it's difficult to determine if the trend will continue in future years.
According to the National Climatic Data Center, there were more than 7,000 daily temperature records broken nationwide from March 1 through March 27.