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An Assortment of April Showers

An interesting aspect of “April showers” is that those showers can fall in a variety of forms. For instance, severe thunderstorms produced showers of hail and rain in southern parts of the region earlier this week. Several inches of hail accumulation was plowed off roads in northwestern West Virginia, and over an inch of rain fell in 20 minutes in central West Virginia, leading to flash flooding. The severe thunderstorms also produced damaging straight-line winds in several parts of the region (including the second highest wind gust from a thunderstorm at the Pittsburgh Airport) and spawned two weak tornadoes in western Pennsylvania.

storm report map

Thunderstorm wind damage reports from 7 AM on April 7 to 7 AM on April 9. Credit: NOAA. Click to enlarge.

As the low pressure system that produced the severe weather moved towards New England, a second low developed over the Gulf of Maine and rapidly strengthened to a near-record level for April. The result was a major late season snowstorm for parts of Maine and New Hampshire from April 9 to 10. As of Friday morning (April 10), snow accumulations of up to 21 inches were reported in Maine. The heavy, wet snow downed trees and caused a third of the state to lose power. And while many parts of the Northeast didn’t experience much of a winter, that wasn’t necessarily the case for parts of Maine. The snow from the ongoing storm could help Caribou see its second longest streak with at least an inch of snow depth (the record was set last year).

snow map

The greatest snow totals approached 21 inches in northern Maine as of 9 AM on April 10. Credit: NWS Caribou. Click to enlarge.

precip table

Climate normals show that July takes the title of “wettest month” at nearly half of the major climate sites.

And while we’re at it, for all this talk of “April showers,” is April really the wettest month? For almost all of the Northeast’s 35 major climate sites, the answer is no. Looking at normal monthly precipitation (based on 1981-2010), only Bridgeport, CT, can call April its wettest month. And when looking at the all-time wettest month (all years of data) at those stations, April isn’t even on the list. Drilling down to daily data, only two major climate sites have had their wettest days on record occur in April - Beckley in West Virginia and LaGuardia Airport in New York. For the rest, the wettest day has typically occurred sometime in the summer or early fall. Despite not achieving a record-setting (wet) status often, April certainly does bring some interesting weather, including showers, our way!

precip table

When looking at all years of data, August was the wettest month at many of the major climate sites.

precip table

The wettest day on record has typically occurred sometime in the summer or early fall for most of the major climate sites.