PARKERSBURG - By the slightest of margins, the past month has become the warmest March on record for Parkersburg, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.
Preliminary data indicates the average monthly temperature for March 2012 at Parkersburg was 54.2 degrees, making it the warmest March on record, just barely surpassing the old record, the NSW reported. The previous record was 54.1 degrees during March 1942.
The monthly average temperature last month was 10.7 degrees above the expected normal of 43.5 degrees for the month of March.
Alan Vanway and his son, Nicholas, of Parkersburg enjoy the swings at Fort Boreman Park in Parkersburg.
Parkersburg resident Alan Vanway was at Fort Boreman Park on Tuesday afternoon with his son, Nicholas. Vanway said he has enjoyed this year's mild winter.
"We got a little bit more done than we normally would in the wintertime. Thank goodness there wasn't as much snow to plow," he said.
"It made it nice and it will make it nicer for the kids to be out of school early this year, without having so many snow days," Vanway said.
The warm and mild weather has also impacted local government, with some spring jobs starting early or moving up. Wood County Maintenance Supervisor Melvin Swiger said his crews have already started mowing the parks and cemeteries the county is responsible for and started other projects.
"We are three weeks ahead, already," he said.
Veterans Park on West Virginia 31, near the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, normally opens on May 1 to the public but Swiger said the warm weather prompted the county to open it Sunday, a month ahead of schedule.
"We've been mowing for a couple of weeks and it's ahead of us," said Jerry Edman, public works director for the city of Parkersburg.
While the mild weather has caused the city's mowing program to get off to an early start, it has also permitted the city to begin working on construction projects earlier than usual, he said. Edman said the city just got word that blacktop plants will begin operating on April 16, which will allow the city to start its blacktopping and patching programs as well.
In a recent interview, J.J. Barrett, WVU extension agent for Wood County, said the mild winter and warmer-than-normal temperatures in March caused plants to bloom and grow quickly. Area residents did garden planting during the warm weather.
Barrett has recommended waiting to set out annual vegetables and flowers till mid- to late-April, unless people are prepared to cover plants during potential frost warnings. People can plant cold weather crops now like cabbage, radishes and broccoli at this time, if they wish, he said.
The big risk now is fruit-bearing trees, which are blooming early because of the warm weather. Periods of frost and cold weather can affect how much is produced.