Welcome to April, the middle child of meteorological spring. Sandwiched between March and May, sometimes it seems like the month acts up to get attention. As the days turn warmer and longer, air masses can still clash and trigger brief bouts of rebellious weather. The month also tosses us those proverbial April showers and sometimes the first thunderstorm of the year.
Despite the meteorological challenges that might get hurled our way, this middle child is predictable in a number of positive ways. Throughout the month, our daily high temperature will increase by roughly 10 degrees. Furthermore, the length of daylight will increase by nearly 23 minutes each week making it lighter earlier and later in the day. Today, which is April 8, the sun will set at 7:30 p.m. On April 30, it will set at 8:01 p.m.
Longer, warmer days will prod leaves to sprout in green and daffodils to bloom in yellow. But during its splendid transition, the month can still display a broad range of weather conditions. Here are some standout examples from years past:
2020: A dry April. Despite it being the month that often has the highest number of days with rain, the first true shower didn’t arrive until April 22. The month’s total rainfall was less than a quarter-inch, compared with the average total of 1.5 inches.
2019: Heavy rains caused flash flooding in parts of the Palouse and north-central Idaho. On April 10, rivers and creeks sharply rose after 0.75 of an inch of rain fell in two hours. Flood waters from the Missouri Flat Creek in Pullman poured into homes and businesses and stranded motorists near downtown. Across the state line in Idaho, Paradise Creek overflowed its banks, flooding neighboring streets and parking lots.
1964: The snowiest April on record. Spokane received 6.6 inches of snow, compared with the month’s average of only a half-inch of snowfall.
1956: The driest April on record. Only 0.08 of an inch of rain fell in Spokane.
1955: The coldest April recorded in Spokane, with an average temperature of just 40.6 degrees.
1936: April 1 of that year marks the coldest day recorded for the month. The low temperature only made it to 14 degrees.
1926: The hottest day recorded for the month is April 29 of that year, when mercury soared to 90 degrees.
1893: The wettest April ever recorded, when nearly 4 inches of rain fell in Spokane. (Remember, the average total for the month is 1.5 inches)
As for April 2021? Long-term forecasters are predicting slightly below-average temperatures from now through June for the Pacific Northwest. The outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center calls for above-average temperatures everywhere in the Lower 48, except our region. Keep in mind, however, that the skew toward cooler temperatures is minor. In other words, it’s unlikely we’ll see a chilly repeat of 14 degrees, as recorded in 1936.
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