April 2019 Extreme Weather

Each month we scour the continental U.S. looking for the warmest, coldest, wettest, snowiest, sunniest and cloudiest locations. Did your town make the list this month? Let’s find out…

Warmest City (compared to average)

North America has four major deserts: Great Basin, Mohave, Chihuahuan and Sonoran. Typically we expect to find our warmest weather in these regions. And this is certainly true. However, deserts tend to have really samesy weather year over year. That means, while hot months are hot, they are as hot as they tend to be on average. So when a desert location tends to be much warmer or colder than normal, it is a pretty big deal. Take for instance our warmest place in the U.S. this month: Thermal, California. Thermal sits in the Coachella Valley which is the northwestern most extent of the Sonoran Desert. Like its name suggest, Thermal is one of the hottest places in the U.S. on average. This past April, Thermal ended up seven degrees above their April monthly average temperature. It was their 2nd warmest April on record and featured 30 straight days of above average temperatures. The high temperature climbed into the triple digits on seven separate days. This was Thermal’s third highest number of 100-degree days in April on record and Thermal currently has the most 100-degrees days of any place in the U.S. to date this year. Five of those 100-degree days came consecutively making for the 3rd longest 100-degree day streak of any April on record. Thermal also set a new all-time warm April low temperature record at a ridiculous 75 degrees. There are still quite a number of major U.S. cities that have yet to reach 75 degrees for a high temperature this year including: Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Portland, and Cleveland. In total, Thermal would set two new daily high and another five daily warm low temperature records. For what it’s worth, Thermal was just 0.1 degrees shy of breaking their all-time warmest record for April.

It was a warm April for a majority of the nation. Eighty-two percent of all major weather reporting stations across the U.S. ended the month with above average temperatures. This is the highest positive percentage since December 2018 where 94% of stations were on the warm side of normal.

Some 220 of these locations ended up having one of their top 10 warmest Aprils on record. Conversely, only eight ended up with top 10 cold.

Coldest City (compared to average)

One such cold locale was Rock Island, Illinois. Rock Island is one of the towns that make up the Quad Cities – a close cluster of cities along the Iowa-Illinois border. It was a damp, cloudy, and raw April in the Quad Cities. For Rock Island, the combination of these factors was enough to produce their 2nd coldest April on record and their 6th wettest. Twenty-two days saw below average temperatures including nine days that were at least ten degrees below average. In a month where average highs span from 57 to 68 degrees, 15 days failed to have highs reach 57. On the night side, in a month where average lows span from 37 to 48 degrees, 19 lows were colder than 37. Twelve of these lows would end up below freezing making for the 2nd most in any April. Rock Island would set one new cold high temperature record and seven daily low records. All this occurred with 14 days of rain resulting in a 2.75 inch surplus for the month. Not a very pretty month at all.

Wettest City

Our wettest place in the country comes to us from Arkansas – an annual hotbed for severe weather and flooding as we head into the spring months. Twenty-nineteen’s version of April in the south was no different. El Dorado, Arkansas, the southernmost metropolis of the state, picked up nearly 14 inches of rain this past April. That was enough to be their 4th wettest April on record. All 13.64 inches came from just nine days of measurable rainfall. Five separate days would see more than an inch of rain – the 2nd most for any April. Two days would see at least 3 inches of rain – tied for 2nd most for any April. And one day would see at least 5 inches of rain – -that’s the most in any April on record in El Dorado. Eight of their thirteen inches would fall in a span of just four days as a stubborn stationary front brought days and days of heavy rain and thunderstorms to the area. In all, El Dorado would set 3 new daily rainfall records. Storms would be responsible for numerous flash flooding events including a handful of high water rescues when cars became stranded on the highway. Just another reminder to turn around when roads appear to be covered with water.

One hundred and ninety five locations would see one of their top ten wettest Aprils on record in 2019.

All but three states would meet or exceed their typical April rainfall totals.

Severe Superlatives

It was a busy April for tornadoes stretching from Texas to New York. Of the 262 total tornadoes, 71 would occur in Mississippi alone. Texas and Alabama would round out the top three with 30 and 23 tornadoes respectively. Twenty three states would see a tornado in April. April 14th produced a whopping 475 severe weather reports (large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes). The period of April 17-19 saw 811.

We are very close to average to date on total tornado numbers in 2019. Through the end of April 449 tornadoes have been reported. Average to date is 503. April alone would see five separate days with over 20 tornadoes each. Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia lead the country in number of tornadoes this year.

Five EF-3 rated tornadoes struck during April. Two came on April 13th near Hearne and Crockett, Texas. Two deaths were reported from the Crockett tornado. The third EF-3 came on April 19th near Rocky Mount, VA. The fourth was on April 25th in Ruston, LA, resulting in two deaths. The final EF-3 came on April 30th in Blue, OK. This resulted in 1 death.

The largest hailstone came in at 4.50″ (grapefruit!) near the aptly named Grapeland, Texas on the 6th. This marks the second month in a row with grapefruit sized hail in the Lone Star State.

The strongest severe wind gust measured 90 MPH at Avon Pier in North Carolina on the 19th.

Snowiest City

The great thing about April snow is that it rarely lasts. April snow is transient. Take for instance our snowiest place in the U.S. this month: Watertown, South Dakota. Yes, it was their 2nd snowiest April on record. Yes, it was even their 6th snowiest MONTH on record. But all 25 inches of white stuff they saw in April came over the span of just three days. Just a week later, temperatures would rebound into the 80s! But let’s talk about this three day span for a minute. Watertown was in the path of Winter Storm Wesley – an early April blizzard and ice storm that brought heavy snow through the Rockies and upper Great Lakes. The 25 inches that Wesley would leave over its three day residency would be enough to make for the snowiest consecutive three day period on record in Watertown. It would also produce their 2nd snowiest April day and their 6th snowiest day of any day on record. The 25 inches would wind up being 21.7 inches above their typical April average. That’s quite an anomaly!

Sunniest City (average % of sky cover)

This April was one of those months where common sense ruled. The warmest place in the U.S. was in the desert southwest. It also happened to be the sunniest place in the U.S. as well. Insert your shocked Pikachu face here. Thermal saw 28 cloud free days this past April. The remaining two days saw less than 10% total sky cover throughout the day. Typically, September is the sunniest month of the year for Thermal. But don’t let that stop them from taking home two extremes trophies this month!

Cloudiest City (average % of sky cover)

We head to upstate New York to find our cloudiest city this month. Rochester, New York takes home this monthly superlative with 77% daily average sky cover throughout the month of April. Rochester would see 14 mostly cloudy or worse days including four days that were 100% overcast. These cloudy days were accompanied by 17 days of measurable rainfall. Rochester is certainly no stranger to cloudy conditions. The city ranks 6th overall in the U.S. in terms of cloudiest cities. As much as 55% of days in a given year will end up mostly cloudy or worse here. January is typically their cloudiest month of the year.

There you have it, the extremes for the month that was April 2019. Make sure to check back next month to see what May has in store!

What weather extremes did you face in April where you live? Let me know in the comments below.

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One Comment

  1. I have a suggestion for The Weather Channel reports of people driving their cars through flooded roads. The saying “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” certainly should help such people realize the error of their ways. But an even more effective message is this: When people drive into floods, they turn their cars into Flood Cars, which then have no resale value or trade-in value. They lose a lot of money destroying their cars this way. So if personal safety doesn’t motivate people, maybe the bottom line of money itself will.

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