THE TEMPERATURE STREAK IS OVER! Longyearbyen was 0.5C colder than “normal” in March, ending 111 months of above-average temperatures

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This is not a joke

No, really, this is not a joke.

Oh, for the Love Of Cod do you really think during a time of unthinkable crisis like this…OK, OK, maybe you believe we’re reporting the truth now.

But March was certainty a freaky enough month in Longyearbyen (and the rest of the world) that April Fool’s Day seems an appropriate date for Longyearbyen’s 111-month streak of above-average temperatures to come to an end, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The average temperature at Svalbard Airport was minus 16.2 degrees, 0.5 degrees below the historic average of minus 15.7 degrees between 1961 and 1990 (a figure which, of course, hasn’t represented “average” locally for many years and will be replaced by the average between 1991-2020 starting next year).

Warm spells at the beginning and especially the last third of the month allowed Longyearbyen to snap the streak. Temperatures plummeted during the middle third – coinciding with the more haunting chill that arrived with the coronavirus quarantine and other impacts – making the streak’s prospects something of a coin flip as the mercury dropped below average again the final few days.

The highest temperature was 2.1 degrees on March 22 and the lowest minus 29.9 degrees on March 12.

There were several other close calls during the streak that began in November of 2010, most recently in February when a massive cold spell during the last half of the month nonetheless resulted in an average of 15.5 degrees compared to the average of minus 16.2 degrees,

Precipitation in March continued to be far below normal at eight millimeters compared to the average of 22, continuing a streak since October. That has meant scant snow cover in some areas (not that it’s posing any issues for the tourism industry that’s instead been almost completely wiped out by the coronavirus crisis), although this month there was a measurable daily snow depth of at least five centimeters, the first time since November there has been consistent snow cover . The heaviest daily precipitation amount was 2.3 millimeters on March 23.

 

By the way, April’s in no joking mood as it’s off to a seriously frigid start with the forecast calling for temperatures of minus 17 degrees today and dropping steadily to minus 26 degrees by midday Friday. The “average” for the month is minus 12.2 degrees.