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'March madness' in Northeast, as region sees warmest month in 118 years

The northeastern United States enjoyed its warmest March in 118 years, beating out the previous warm-winter record set in 1945, according to Cornell's Northeast Regional Climate Center.

March 2012, with an average temperature of 44.4 F, was 9.8 degrees F above normal, with highs in the 80s as far north as Maine. Between March 7 and March 23, at least 127 maximum-temperature records were set in the Northeast.

Of the 12 states in the Northeast region, seven had their warmest March since 1895: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Unusually warm March temperatures had migrating animals and spring flowers arriving much earlier than usual. Such early blooms boosted pollen counts, then left commercial fruit growers scrambling to find ways to protect the new buds from frost damage.

There were plus sides, too: Several Northeast golf courses opened their 2012 season weeks ahead of schedule.

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Joe Schwartz