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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Readers enjoy record breaking warm weather by playing in the Olympic Legacy Plaza at the Gateway mall Tuesday, April 10, 2012, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — The calendar says April, but for many it feels not like spring, but the dog days of summer. 

Salt Lake City had a record-breaking high of 81 degrees Tuesday, breaking the old record of 78 degrees that was set back in 1916. 

Most people didn’t mind the warmer-than-usual temperatures. Lance Conrad, of Lehi, had a picnic with his three daughters and went to check out City Creek Center downtown.

“This is how it should be every day, just about perfect today,” he said. “If every spring were like this, or every winter were this short, I could live with it.”

But Salt Lake resident Scott Olson was a little concerned about the early heat and didn't think it’s a good thing in the long run. “We’d love to see a little bit of rain. It’s time to turn the water on,” he said. The avid fisherman was also concerned about the water levels in the rivers.

Every state in the nation experienced at least one record warm daily temperature during March, making the first quarter of 2012 the warmest on record.

In March, at least 7,775 weather stations across the nation broke daily high temperature records, and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat. Combined, that is more high temperature records broken in one month than ever before, Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., told The Associated Press.

Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year. National Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney calls it astounding.

“Usually we break records by normally a degree, a half a degree, we broke it by 8.6 degrees this past month,” he said.

Utah has been mostly locked in a high pressure system since mid-November and recorded its driest December on record. The records track what many climatologists projected.

"If you look at the science of climate change and what they predicted and the research that's been done, that's what we're seeing right now,” said McInerney. “These warmer periods, where the snow is melting earlier, lots and lots of consistent warming records are being broken."

Salt Lake City had daily record warm low temperatures on seven days in March. It also saw a record high of 80 degrees, breaking the old record of 78, which was set in 2004. This was also the earliest in a year that the city had reached 80 degrees. The previous record was April 5.

All of this is having a big impact on snowpack, which is about 50 percent of normal.

The weather along the Wasatch Front is going to change over the next few days. Wednesday it will be warm and windy with temperatures in the high 70s. Cooler temperatures and rain start Thursday with temperatures in the mid- to-high 50s for the next few days, then back into the upper 60s.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

E-mail: [email protected]