National Climate Report - April 2014
Maps and Graphics
U.S. Percentage Areas
Major climate events NOAA is closely monitoring:
- Drought in the West, Central and Southern Plains, and Midwest. Long- and short-term dryness will increase wildfire risk and continue to have impacts on water resources and agriculture.
- El Niño development likely this summer or autumn. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, there is a greater than 65 percent chance of El Niño conditions developing later this year, which could have significant impacts on temperature and precipitation patterns across the U.S. More information is available from the Climate Prediction Center.
Supplemental April 2014 Information
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for select U.S. cities
- Year-to-date precipitation evolution for select U.S. cities
- April daily temperature extremes
- Climate Highlights — April
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during April was 51.7°F, which was 0.7°F above the 20th century average. This was the 46th warmest April in the 120-year period of record.
- Much of the contiguous U.S. had April temperatures near the 20th century average. Above-average temperatures were scattered along the West Coast and in the Southwest, the Southern Plains, and across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Southeast. Below-average temperatures were observed across parts of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains. No state had April temperatures among their 10 warmest or coolest.
- Alaska had the 12th warmest April of its 96-year period of record, with a temperature 3.8°F above the 1971-2000 average. This was the warmest April for Alaska since 2007. Much of the warmth was situated in western Alaska, where Nome had its fourth warmest April since local records began in 1907. The April precipitation total in Alaska was 23.3 percent below the 1971-2000 average, the 23rd driest April on record. Anchorage had its fifth driest April with only nine percent of normal monthly precipitation.
- The April contiguous U.S. precipitation total of 2.83 inches was 0.31 inch above the 20th century average and the 30th wettest April on record.
- Above-average precipitation in the Upper Midwest resulted in Wisconsin having its third wettest April and Minnesota its eighth wettest. Heavy precipitation across the Southeast, particularly near the end of the month, caused Alabama to have its fifth wettest April, Georgia its seventh wettest, and Florida its ninth wettest.
- On April 29th and 30th, torrential rain fell across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast causing significant flash flooding. The Gulf Coast of Alabama and the Florida panhandle bore the brunt of the heavy rains. At the Pensacola Regional Airport, in Florida, the two-day precipitation total was 20.47 inches, with 15.55 inches of the total falling on the 29th, breaking both one-day and two-day precipitation records; local records date back to 1879. On the 29th, Mobile, Alabama received 11.24 inches of rain, the third greatest calendar day rainfall total for the city since local records began in 1871. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment released on May 6th, the amount of heavy precipitation falling in single events has increased by 27 percent across the Southeast since 1958. This event is consistent with projections of increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events across the U.S. as the world warms.
- Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the West, the central Rockies, and the Central and Southern Plains. Oklahoma had its 12th driest April on record, with 50 percent of average precipitation. Parts of Texas were also particularly dry, where San Angelo observed just 30 percent of normal monthly precipitation.
- According to the April 29th U.S. Drought Monitor report, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, nearly the same as the beginning of April, with both improvement and degradation of drought conditions on regional scales. Beneficial rain improved drought conditions across the Upper Midwest and Southeast during the month, while drought conditions worsened in parts of the West and across portions of the Central and Southern Plains.
- Drought conditions improved in Hawaii during April due in part to heavy rainfall at the end of March and the beginning of April. Only 0.7 percent of the state was experiencing drought conditions on April 29th, down from 14.4 percent at the beginning of the month. This was the smallest drought footprint for Hawaii since April 2008, and the first time since June 2008 that no part of the state was experiencing severe drought. Most of the drought improvement occurred across the Big Island, with central Molokai still experiencing moderate drought conditions.
- A severe weather outbreak on April 27-29 spawned at least 38 tornadoes from Nebraska to North Carolina, according to preliminary estimates from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. At least 32 fatalities were blamed on the tornadoes, with Arkansas and Mississippi being the hardest hit. An EF-4 tornado in Pulaski and White counties in Arkansas resulted in 15 fatalities, while an EF-4 in Winston County, Mississippi resulted in nine fatalities.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during April was 28 percent below average and the 37th lowest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
- During April, there were about 75 percent more cold daily temperature records (1,419 cold maximum temperature records, 1,380 cold minimum temperature records; 2,799 total) than warm daily temperature records (544 warm maximum temperature records, 1,039 warm minimum temperature records; 1,583 total).
- Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January – April)
- For the first four months of 2014, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 38.7°F, 0.4°F below the 20th century average, and the 46th coldest January-April on record. This was the coldest four-month start to a year since 1993.
- Below-average temperatures were widespread across the eastern U.S. where 13 states had January-April temperatures among their 10 coldest on record. The coldest departures from average occurred across the Midwest. No state had its coldest January-April on record.
- Warm conditions were observed across a large portion of the West. Arizona and California were both record warm, with four-month temperatures 4.5°F and 5.2°F above their 20th century average, respectively. Nevada, Oregon and Utah each had one of their five warmest January-April periods on record.
- The year-to-date precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 8.79 inches, 0.68 inch above the 20th century average and the 33rd driest January-April on record.
- Below-average four-month precipitation totals were widespread across the Southwest and the Central and Southern Plains. Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas each had January-April precipitation totals that ranked among their 10 driest on record. Oklahoma had its second driest January-April on record, with less than half of average precipitation; 1936 was the driest. The dry conditions across Oklahoma decimated much of the winter wheat crop in the state, with estimates of the lowest harvested yield since 1957. In west Texas, precipitation deficits that date back to 2010 have been unprecedented in the observational record, with nearly every major reservoir in the region at less than 40 percent of capacity.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date was the 14th highest on record for the period at 145 percent of average. Elements that contributed to the above-average USCEI included the spatial extent of cold maximum and minimum temperatures, warm maximum temperatures and the spatial extent of drought. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous U.S.
- Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-April was 27 percent above average and the 29th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (nClimDiv), the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index page.**
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
- Alaska had its 12th warmest April since records began in 1918, with a temperature 3.69°F (2.05°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 22nd warmest February-April since records began in 1918, with a temperature 2.69°F (1.49°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 3rd warmest January-April since records began in 1918, with a temperature 5.71°F (3.17°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 23rd driest April since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -23.32% below the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 4th driest February-April since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -33.37% below the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 21st driest January-April since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -10.43% below the 1971-2000 average.
For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page.
These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.
- Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- While temperatures continued to be below normal for much of the Northeast, departures were not as large as in recent months. The region's average temperature of 45.6 degrees F (7.6 degrees C) was 0.4 degrees F (0.2 degrees C) below normal. Eleven of the twelve Northeast states were cooler than normal, with departures ranging from -1.2 degrees F (-0.7 degrees C) in Maine to -0.1 degrees F (-0.1 degrees C) in Delaware. West Virginia was the lone warmer-than-normal state with a departure of +1.2 degrees F (+0.7 degrees C).
- April was another drier-than-normal month in the Northeast. The region saw 3.55 inches (90.17 mm) of precipitation, 97 percent of normal. The states were split between above- and below-normal precipitation. Departures for the dry states ranged from 76 percent of normal in New Hampshire to 97 percent of normal in Connecticut. The wet states were actually drier than normal through most of April, but a late-month storm brought heavy rain that pushed departures above normal. Departures ranged from 101 percent of normal in Rhode Island to 131 percent of normal in Maryland. Washington Dulles, DC, saw its wettest April on record.
- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor released April 3, part of northwestern Maine and a small area along the Vermont-New Hampshire border were abnormally dry. By April 24, the dryness near the Vermont-New Hampshire border expanded slightly and abnormally dry conditions were introduced in western Maryland, northeastern West Virginia, and a small part of southern Pennsylvania. While the dryness in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania remained through month's end, the dryness in New England eased.
- New England and upstate New York experienced flooding mid-month due to melting snow and heavy rain. The St. Regis River near Brasher Falls, New York, had its highest crest in nearly 70 years, according to the Daily Courier-Observer. In Maine, a 5-mile long ice jam flooded the only road to the towns of Allagash and St. Francis, stranding residents. At the end of April, more than a month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours causing flooding from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to New York, New York. Storm totals included: 7.57 inches (192.28 mm) in Aberdeen, Maryland; 6.56 inches (166.62 mm) in Spring City, Pennsylvania; and 6.32 inches (160.53 mm) in Riverton, New Jersey. Preliminary data shows the Brandywine Creek at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, had its 3rd highest crest on record. Hundreds of roads were closed (at least 120 roads in Chester County, Pennsylvania, alone) and flight delays of up to 7 hours were reported at some Northeast airports. In Baltimore, Maryland, a section of street nearly a block long collapsed, sending cars plummeting onto railroad tracks below. Uncooperative weather through the month slowed plant growth and farmers' ability to get into fields. According to the USDA Crop Report from April 30, only 17 percent of potatoes in Delaware had been planted by April 30 compared to the 5-year average of 71 percent and in Pennsylvania only 6 percent of cherry trees were in full bloom versus the 5-year average of 76 percent. Most crops in New England were well behind schedule, as well.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- April temperatures for the Midwest were below normal for the sixth straight month dating back to November 2013. However, a few states (Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky) experienced monthly statewide temperatures above normal in April, the first Midwest states to exceed normal in 2014. The coldest temperatures were in the north and west where readings for April averaged as much as 6 degrees F (3 C) below normal. Year-to-date temperatures rank among the ten coldest on record (1895-2014 data) for all Midwest states except Kentucky which ranked 13th in its history. Freezing temperatures affected the entire region in April though areas in the south were freeze free for the last half of the month. All nine states also had stations that hit 80 degrees F (27 C) during the month.
- April precipitation was above normal for most of the Midwest, and well above normal for the northern states and also along the Ohio River. Some small areas of below normal precipitation were scattered around the Midwest (northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota, southwest Missouri, and south central Michigan) with totals less than 75 percent of normal. Statewide totals exceeded normal in all nine states, ranging from 0.97 inches (25 mm) above normal in Missouri to more than two inches (51 mm) above normal in Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Snowfall totals were also above normal in the northern states in April. Totals topped 3 inches (7 cm) north of a line from northwest Iowa to northern Lower Michigan with totals over 2 feet (61 cm) in Upper Michigan and some northern Minnesota stations.
- Cool and wet weather has delayed spring planting somewhat. As of April 27th, Missouri is the only Midwest state that is ahead of its 5-year average for corn planting and just by a few percent. Illinois is just barely behind (1 percent) and the other seven Midwest states are between 9 and 26 percent behind for corn planting. Soybean planting is just beginning (0 to 2 percent) in the Midwest putting it slightly behind the 5-year averages which are all under 10 percent as of April 27th.
- Following a quiet March, severe weather has again been infrequent across the Midwest in April. Severe weather was only widespread on seven days during the month (2nd, 3rd, 12th, 13th, 27th, 28th, and 29th) and there were no severe weather reports on 17 days. Severe weather avoided Indiana for the entire month and just clipped the southeastern tip of Minnesota. Tornadoes were reported in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. An Iowa tornado caused two fatalities in Keokuk County on the 27th.
- Midwest drought coverage shrunk during April. Areas in the various drought categories all dropped to nearly half of the area affected early in the month. The driest areas remain in the western Midwest.
- For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Mean temperatures were generally above average across the Southeast in April. The greatest departures were found across coastal sections of Georgia and the Carolinas, where monthly temperatures were between 2 and 3 degrees F (1.1 and 1.6 degrees C) above average. Monthly temperatures were also above average across much of Puerto Rico, with San Juan recording its warmest April on record with a mean temperature of 82.4 degrees F (28 degrees C). This broke the previous record of 81.8 degrees F (27.7 degrees C) set back in 1984 (period of record: 1898-2014). Conversely, April temperatures were below average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. The warmest weather occurred during the first week of the month, as daily temperature departures of 10 to 20 degrees F (5.5 to 11.1 degrees C) were observed from southern Alabama and Georgia to central Virginia from the 1st to the 4th of the month. In contrast, the coldest weather occurred from the 15th to the 17th of the month following the passage of a strong cold front. Daily minimum temperatures during this period dropped below freezing as far south as central Alabama and Georgia and dropped below 20 degrees F (-6.7 degrees C) across western portions of Virginia and North Carolina. Significant drops in temperature were observed during the passage of the front on the afternoon of the 15th. Raleigh-Durham Airport (KRDU) experienced a 1-hour temperature drop of 21 degrees F (11.7 degrees C), which came close to the record of 26 degrees F (14.5 degrees C) set on 6 June 1977 (period of record: 1948-2014). More subfreezing temperatures were observed in the wake of another cold front on the morning of the 24th across the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
- Monthly precipitation was above average across much of the Southeast in April. The greatest departures were found across parts of central and southern Alabama and Georgia, as well as the Panhandle of Florida, where monthly precipitation totals generally exceeded 10 inches (254 mm), or more than 5 inches (127 mm) above average. In particular, coastal sections of Alabama and extreme northwest Florida recorded between 15 and 30 inches (381 and 762 mm) of precipitation for the month. Mobile, AL recorded its wettest April with 18.09 inches (459 mm), breaking the previous record of 17.69 inches (449 mm) set in 1955 (period of record: 1871-2014). Pensacola, FL recorded its all-time wettest month with 29.53 inches (750 mm), breaking the previous record of 24.46 inches (621 mm) set in April 2005. Much of this precipitation fell on the 29th of the month, as a slow-moving weather system entrained significant moisture across the southeastern U.S. Mobile recorded its third greatest all-time daily precipitation total with 11.24 inches (285 mm), while Pensacola recorded its greatest all-time daily precipitation total with 15.55 inches (395 mm), breaking the previous record of 15.29 inches (388 mm) set on 5 October 1934. The Automated Surface Observing System at Pensacola (KPNS) briefly lost power and failed to collect data during several hours of the event. The final daily precipitation total was determined through a collaborative effort using nearby stations, radar estimates, and model products. Other locations across the northern Gulf Coast received between 5 and 10 inches of precipitation from the 28th to the 30th of the month. At least one death was confirmed in Pensacola when a woman attempted to drive through flood waters. The heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding, sinkholes, road closures (including parts of I-10), and record high water levels across some rivers. Heavy precipitation was also observed across the northern half of the region, resulting in debris flows which blocked several roads across the Southern Appalachian Mountains and extreme flooding which trapped several people in their homes across parts of eastern North Carolina. In contrast, the driest locations across the Southeast were found along the Florida Peninsula, where monthly precipitation totals were generally between 1 and 2 inches (25.4 and 50.8 mm) below average. Monthly precipitation was variable across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Snowfall was reported across the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, with up to 2 inches (50.8 mm) across parts of western Virginia, in the wake of the cold front on the 15th and 16th of the month. The end of April marked the third snowiest season at Washington's Dulles Airport (KIAD) with 52.8 inches (1341 mm). The record is 73.2 inches (1859 mm) set back in 2009-2010 (period of record: 1962-2014). Mount Mitchell, NC recorded its fifth snowiest season with 134.4 inches (3413 mm). The record is 176 inches (4470 mm) set back in 1997-1998 (period of record: 1980-2014).
- There were 300 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in April, including 26 confirmed tornadoes (as of 5 May 2014). Five tornadoes were confirmed across parts of northern Florida, central Georgia, and eastern North Carolina on the 7th of the month. The strongest was an EF-2 that injured five people in Beaufort County, NC. An EF-1 in Spalding County, GA also contributed to three injuries. On the 25th of the month, nine tornadoes dropped down across parts of central and eastern North Carolina. One fatality was confirmed in Chowan County. The strongest tornado was an EF-3 that again struck Beaufort County, this time injuring over 30 people and damaging or destroying more than 325 homes and buildings. This was the first confirmed EF-3 tornado in the U.S. in 2014, marking the latest into the calendar year without an EF-3 or stronger tornado in a record extending back to 1950. Numerous reports of large hail and damaging winds were also reported with these storms. Several tornadoes were spawned across the Southeast on the 28th and 29th of the month. Six tornadoes have been confirmed across central and northern portions of Alabama, including two EF-3s in Limestone and Lincoln Counties that claimed a total of four lives. The Limestone County tornado also contributed to over 30 injuries. Three tornadoes have been confirmed in central North Carolina, while damage across the eastern part of the state has yet to be confirmed. Two tornadoes were also spawned across Jackson County in northern Florida. High winds along the periphery of a thunderstorm complex in central Georgia claimed a life in Clarke County on the 30th of the month. Numerous trees and power lines were toppled, resulting in power outages of up to several days.
- For the second straight month, only small changes were noted in the U.S. Drought Monitor across the Southeast. Areas of moderate drought (D1) and abnormally dry conditions (D0) were eliminated across southern parts of Alabama and Georgia, while very small areas of D0 remained across extreme northern Georgia and northwest Alabama. Abnormally dry conditions also persisted across much of Puerto Rico. The heavy rains across northern Florida delayed the planting of row crops and vegetables, and forced some farmers to replant watermelons. In contrast, the warm and dry weather across South Florida aided in the harvesting of several fruit and vegetable crops. A colder than average winter across western North Carolina delayed the bloom of apples, which may have saved the crop from severe damage during the freeze near the end of the month. On the other hand, a lack of winter chill hours and cool spring temperatures contributed to a 2-3 week delay in blueberry production across Florida, resulting in up to a 30 percent increases in prices over last season.
- For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
- April 2014 was on the cooler side for the High Plains Region, however temperature departures were not near as extreme as February or March. The largest departures occurred in North Dakota where much of the state was 4.0-6.0 degrees F (2.2-3.3 degrees C) below normal. While the northern half of South Dakota ranged from 2.0-4.0 degrees F (1.1-2.2 degrees C) below normal, the rest of the Region was generally near normal with departures up to 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above/below normal. Although North Dakota had the largest departures, these were not record breaking. Grand Forks had an average temperature of 37.3 degrees F (2.9 degrees C), which was 4.7 degrees F (2.6 degrees C) below normal, and only ranked as the 13th coolest April on record (period of record 1893-2014). By the end of the month, spring field work was well underway. Below normal temperatures limited fieldwork in North Dakota as soil temperatures were too cool. As a result, all spring crops were behind the 5-year average, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Cooler temperatures also hindered work in Colorado, as did high winds and scattered showers. Some crops were even damaged by the high winds which caused dust storms and uprooted winter wheat. Dust storms and freezing temperatures were a concern for the declining Kansas winter wheat crop as well.
- April precipitation was varied across the High Plains Region. Above normal precipitation fell across much of North Dakota and areas to the east such as Minnesota and Iowa. While only a few pockets of above normal precipitation fell in the other states in the Region, large areas had precipitation totals which were at best 50 percent of normal. Notable areas included southeastern South Dakota, southern and western Kansas, southern and central Wyoming, and areas near the Nebraska/Colorado border. A few embedded areas even received as little as 25 percent of normal precipitation. Wichita, Kansas was one of these dry locations and had its 6th driest April on record with 0.53 inches (13 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1888-2014). This amount was only 20 percent of normal and just shy of the 1963 record of 0.22 inches (6 mm). After the second wettest August on record last year, precipitation has been lacking in the Wichita area. Water year to date precipitation (October-April) was only at 6.26 inches (159 mm), marking the 6th driest for this time period. On average, Wichita receives 12.70 inches (323 mm) from October to April. Interestingly, this has also been the driest start to a year in Wichita since the Dust Bowl year of 1936. Although parts of the plains were dry, the mountain snowpack continued to be above average in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The typical snowpack accumulation season has ended and snowmelt is underway. Widespread significant flooding due to mountain snowpack melting is not expected at this time. Some minor to moderate flooding could occur, however. The severe storm season was off to a slow start this year. According to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), as of April 21st, this year had been the least active tornado year in at least 60 years. The end of the month was quite active, however as large areas of the southern U.S. were impacted by a severe weather outbreak. Some areas of the High Plains Region were impacted as well. In all, there were 169 storm reports for the Region during April (this includes reports of tornadoes, hail, and wind). For comparison, 141 storm reports came in last April and 396 reports came in the previous year.
- In the High Plains Region, there were only slight changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor this month as there were both improvements and degradations. By the end of the month, the total area in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought increased from 29 to 33 percent. In eastern Colorado, conditions worsened and D1 spread northward while extreme drought (D3) expanded eastward. Additionally, severe drought (D2) developed in the southwestern corner of the state. Meanwhile, D2 in Kansas spread eastward and two new areas of D3 emerged in the central part of the state. Nebraska had slight improvements where ample precipitation fell, but overall, there was a decline in conditions as D1 spread throughout the eastern part of the state. Abnormally dry conditions were reduced or eliminated in the Dakotas and Wyoming. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released April 17th, current drought conditions are expected to persist across southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas through July. Meanwhile, drought conditions may improve or be eliminated in other parts of Kansas and Nebraska.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- April temperatures varied spatially across the Southern Region, however, average temperature anomalies were low, with the majority of stations averaging withing 2 degrees F (1.11 degrees C) of normal for the month. For the most part, the central portions of the Southern Region experienced a slightly cooler than normal month. This includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, eastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, and the western tip of Tennessee. Elsewhere, temperatures for the month averaged slightly above normal. The state wide average temperatures are as follows: Arkansas reported 59.80 degrees F (15.44 degrees C), Louisiana reported 65.60 degrees F (18.67 degrees C), Mississippi reported 62.80 degrees F (17.11 degrees C), Oklahoma reported 59.40 degrees F (15.22 degrees C), Tennessee reported 58.80 degrees F (14.89 degrees C), and Texas reported 65.60 degrees F (18.66 degrees C). All state temperature rankings for the month fell within the two middle quartiles.
- Precipitation totals for the month of April were plentiful in some parts of the Southern Region, while other portions experienced a very dry month. A series of cold fronts that swept through the Gulf Coast, allowed for heavy rainfall amounts in central and southern Mississippi. Stations in this part of the Southern Region averaged over twice the normal precipitation for the month. In northern Louisiana, eastern Arkansas, and Tennessee, precipitation totals varied from near normal to just under twice the monthly expectation. Most of Oklahoma and Texas remained very dry throughout the month. Stations in the southern tip of Texas averaged less than one fourth of normal precipitation. Similar departures from normal were also experienced in northern Oklahoma and in the west central counties of Texas. The statewide average precipitation totals for the month of April are as follows: Arkansas 5.36 recorded inches (136.14 mm), Louisiana recorded 4.32 inches (109.73 mm), Mississippi recorded 8.74 inches (222.00 mm), Oklahoma recorded 1.70 inches (43.18 mm), Tennessee recorded 5.81 inches (147.57 mm), and Texas recorded 1.01 inches (25.65 mm). Oklahoma experienced its twelfth driest April on record (1895-2014), while Texas had its thirteenth driest April (1895-2014). Conversely, Mississippi experienced its twelfth wettest April on record (1895-2014). For Tennessee it was the twenty-third wettest April on record (1895-2014). All other state rankings fell within the two middle quartiles.
- Drought conditions in the Southern Region worsened significantly over the past month. Most of the northern panhandle of Texas is now classified as exceptional drought (D4), the highest possible drought category that can be assigned by the National Drought Mitigation Center. The D4 drought also extends into western and northern Oklahoma. A second, but smaller area of D4 drought is also now evident in the south of Texas, centered near Edwards County. Moderate drought was expanded to include a larger portion of eastern Texas. Elsewhere, drought conditions did not change too much, except for a small area in northern Mississippi that is now classified as moderate drought.
- The biggest severe weather story for the month concerns a major tornado outbreak that occurred over two days, spanning April 27-28. In Mississippi, approximately two dozen twisters hit the state, resulting in major damage and numerous fatalities. According to the storm prediction center, nineteen fatalities resulted from an a twister that tore through Leake County, Mississippi. Though these number are still preliminary, they do point to the fact that this was a major event that rivals the super outbreak that occurred just a few years ago in April, 2011. In Arkansas, an EF4 tornado passed through Mayflower and Vilonia resulting in approximately one dozen deaths and over one hundred injuries.
- In Texas, school districts in the Panhandle, such as Amarillo ISD, have begun to pay nearly double the water rate from a few years ago. In Wichita Falls, it is looking more and more likely that a Stage 5 drought declaration will be issued which will ban pools from being filled and close car washes two days a week. In all, 240 of the 252 counties in Texas qualified for federal drought disaster assistance by the end of April. In addition, agriculture did not fare well this month. Because of the continued lack of rain, a variety of other obstacles have struck the Panhandle's winter wheat crops. A late season freeze occurred over multiple days, dropping temperatures to the high 20s. Continued dust storms, sourced from several different locations, reduced visibility enough to cause several multi-car pile-ups and covering planting fields with several layers of dust. Crop watering has slowed due to water shortages in municipalities, meaning the wheat and cotton crops in the High Plains are in particular danger. The state of Texas also experienced its fair share of severe weather in the month of April. Three tornado touchdowns occurred over the month, two in an outbreak on April 3 in North Texas, and one on April 13 in east Texas, though with only moderate damage and there was no loss of life. The storm system on the third of the month caused significant hail damage in Denton when baseball sized hail fell downtown. (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- Conditions were variable across the West this month, fairly typical of the spring season. Temperatures were within a few degrees of normal across a majority of the West, though well above normal in California. Precipitation was characterized by pockets of both above and below normal precipitation scattered throughout the region. Although a majority of this month's storm systems favored the Pacific Northwest, some moisture made its way to parts of drought-stricken California and the Southwest, providing temporary irrigation support amid persistent drought.
- Periods of strong high pressure over California brought warmer than normal temperatures to the state and adjacent areas. In southern California, temperatures in San Diego averaged to 65.2 F (18.4 C) for the second warmest April in a 76-year record. Further north, Santa Maria recorded an average 60.3 F (15.7 C) for the month, 4.7 F (2.6 C) above normal, tied for warmest April since records began in 1948. In northern California, Ukiah recorded its second warmest April at an average 59.2 F (15.1 C), just behind the record 59.6 F (15.3 C) set in 2013. Records in Ukiah began in 1949. For the year-to-date, 2014 has been the warmest on record at San Diego (63 F/17.2 C), Santa Maria (59.2 F / 15.1 C), and Ukiah (54 F/12.2 C) as well as many other California locations. In Oregon, Medford also had a warm April at 56.2 F (13.4 C), the 9th warmest since records began in 1911. Reno, Nevada, logged its 4th warmest April on record at 54.3 F (12.4 C), 3.4 F (1.9 C) above normal. The average since January for Reno was 46.6 F (8.1 C), the warmest such period in the past 78 years. In the Desert Southwest, Phoenix, Arizona, reported an average 74.8 F (23.8 C) for the month, the 11th warmest April in an 82 year record. Phoenix also saw its warmest start to the year with an average 67.0 F (19.4 C) over the last 4 months. Outside the Southwest, temperatures were generally within 2 F (1 C) of normal for April.
- Wet weather continued this month for the Pacific Northwest. In spite of the drought conditions developing in eastern Washington, Seattle has had its 4th wettest start to the calendar year at 23.43 in (595 mm), including 4.18 in (106 mm) this month, 154% of normal. Records for Seattle began in 1948. Elsewhere in the Northwest, Boise, Idaho, measured 2.15 in (55 mm) precipitation this month for the 6th wettest April in the past 75 years. Select locations in Colorado received above normal precipitation as well. Pueblo accumulated 2.06 in (52 mm), 147% of normal and the 9th wettest April in the past 61 years. In California, Sacramento received a beneficial 1.97 in (50 mm) of rain, 152% of normal. At the end of April, snow pack remained near to above normal in a broad swath from Washington southeast to Colorado. To the south and west, despite some reinforcement with this month's storms, an already meager snowpack continued to deteriorate with the help of above normal temperatures.
- Most of this month's drier than normal areas were in the Southwest. Albuquerque, New Mexico, recorded only 0.01 in (<1 mm) this month, making it the 15th driest April since records began in 1897. For the second month in a row, Las Vegas received no precipitation. Las Vegas has only seen precipitation on one day (February 28, 0.3 in/8 mm) since the start of the year, 16% of the normal 1.89 in (48 mm) for that period and only the 13th driest in a 67-year record. Coastal areas of southern California also saw below normal rainfall; Los Angeles recorded 0.35 in (9 mm), 38% of normal. In northern California, Arcata received 1.84 in (47 mm) of rain this month. This was 42% of normal, making this the 3rd driest April since records began for Arcata in 1945. Across the border in Oregon, light showers throughout the month in Klamath Falls accumulated to only 0.2 in (5 mm), 15% of normal and tie for the 5th driest April in a 67-year record.
- Outside the continental US, average temperatures were above normal in western Alaska. Nome saw an April average of 28.4 F (-2 C), the 4th warmest since continuous records began in 1907. This was the 7th consecutive month of above normal average temperatures in Nome. Many locations in Interior and South Central Alaska were drier than normal this month. Anchorage recorded only 0.04 in (1 mm) precipitation, 9% of normal and the 5th driest April in the past 63 years. Further south, drought conditions improved for windward areas of Hawaii while leeward locations were drier than normal. On the windward side of the Big Island, Hilo received 13.37 in (340 mm) of rain, 116% of normal. This month saw the first time since June 2008 that the entire state of Hawaii has been free of D2 (severe drought) designation. In contrast, Lihue, Kauai, received 0.65 in (17 mm), 29% of normal and the 3rd driest April since records began in 1950.
- April (all month): Drought conditions continue in Southwest: April saw further expansion of drought conditions in California, the Great Basin, Arizona and New Mexico. This is the first time in the 15-year history of the US Drought Monitor that the entire state of California has been designated as D2-D4 (moderate to exceptional drought). Several municipalities in the West are in danger of running out of water in the near future, such as Montecito, in Southern California; Montague, in Northern California; and Monticello, Utah in the Four Corners area.
- April 29-30: Late season Santa Ana winds, fire in Southern California: Santa Ana winds typically occur October-March, though may be observed any time of year. High winds, high temperatures, and low humidity associated with Santa Ana wind conditions helped a wildfire east of Los Angeles spread rapidly. The Etiwanda fire has burned roughly 1,000 acres (405 hectares) and threatens 1,600 homes. The Santa Ana conditions brought record daily high temperatures to coastal California.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.