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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Do ‘April showers’ live up to their reputation?

UPDATED: Tue., March 29, 2022

Pedestrians find shelter under umbrellas as rain falls on the corner of Monroe Street and Sprague Avenue on April 9, 2019.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Pedestrians find shelter under umbrellas as rain falls on the corner of Monroe Street and Sprague Avenue on April 9, 2019. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Friday marks the first day of April, when pleasant weather prevails with warm sunshine and periods of showers that bring May flowers.

Or so we’ve been told.

The truth is, April’s weather patterns aren’t that predictable. Sure, it gets progressively warmer, the sun stays out longer and breezes enter from the southwest. But the month can still deliver an icy kiss of cold, raw nights and occasional snow. What’s more, April doesn’t always live up to its showery reputation.

Look no further than the past two years for examples.

In 2021, only 0.21 of an inch of rain fell in Spokane that month, making it the ninth-driest April on record. This compares to the average April rainfall of 1.4 inches. Showers were also sparse in 2020, when the city received less than a half-inch of rain.

A small amount of rainfall during May or June isn’t nearly as impactful as in April and March, when dry conditions can lead us into drought or worsen an existing one. Last April’s dry spell was caused by a large high-pressure system parked over the Pacific Northwest that didn’t break up until the latter part of month.

Even Seattle and Portland experienced back-to-back weeks of abnormally dry conditions. The cool, showery weather that finally arrived in late April wasn’t enough to make up for the water deficit that spanned through winter. Consequently, the region fell deeper into drought.

In 2019, April’s showery image was bolstered by 1.47 inches of precipitation that fell during the month. But to see an April that truly lived up to its showery fame, we have to go back to 2018 when 2.03 inches of rain fell in Spokane.

The city’s wettest April on record occurred in 1893, when nearly 4 inches of rain drenched the area. Conversely, its driest April was in 1956, when not even one-tenth of an inch fell.

As for April 2022, the Pacific Northwest is favored to see slightly cooler temperatures in April and equal chances for average precipitation, the Climate Prediction Center said in its annual spring outlook. Drought conditions are expected to continue in more than half of the continental United States, including Washington state, the agency stated.

Regardless of how much rain falls during the month, longer, warmer days will nudge the leaves to unfurl and daffodils to bloom. From April 1-30, the daily high temperature will increase by about 10 degrees. And over the month, the daylight will increase by nearly 23 minutes. Oh, and the average first 70-degree day in Spokane is on April 17.

Bring it on.

Nic Loyd is a meteorologist in Washington state. Linda Weiford is a writer in Moscow, Idaho, who’s also a weather geek. Contact: ldweiford@gmail.com.

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