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Massachusetts may break dry weather record

March among warmest ever recorded in Mass.

Last month was the second-warmest March ever recorded in Massachusetts, and the state is on track to break a record for the least precipitation in the first 100 days of the year, according to the National Weather Service.

There have only been three days this month that were free of a red-flag brush fire warning from the Weather Service. Above-normal temperatures, scant precipitation, and high winds create prime conditions for fires to spread quickly.

And forecasters see no end to the dryness in the near future.

“We’re not looking at anything like a soaker rain,’’ said Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist at the Weather Service.

However, he said, history has shown droughts are typically only short-term affairs and precipitation totals are likely to even out over the next several months.

Massachusetts is not alone in dealing with unusual warmth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an overview of the country’s weather Monday and declared that it was the warmest March on record nationally since records were first kept in 1895.

The report said more than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken nationally in March, including 255 at various locations in Massachusetts.

The average national temperature for the month was 51.1 degrees, up from the 1910 record of 50.6 degrees.

The average national temperature for March typically is 42.5 degrees. The Massachusetts average for March was 8.7 degrees above normal - an increase similar to that seen nationally.

“It was pretty warm and pretty dry [in Massachusetts], but there was a huge part of the country that was experiencing similar conditions,’’ said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA.

NOAA also reported that January 2006 was the only other month on record where the national average temperature varied more.

Boston was one of many cities that experienced record warm weather in the first quarter of the year. Washington, D.C., and Chicago were among the others. No state in the contiguous United States had below-average first-quarter temperatures.

Alli Knothe can be reached at aknothe@globe.com.
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