The Epitome of Spring: April 2015 Review
As is typical for this transition month, April 2015 featured a battle between winter and spring weather patterns. The month gave us a taste of temperatures in the 70s and 80s with some severe storms, but also featured drastic cool downs into the 30s and 40s with even some late season snow! The big highlight of the month, however, was the lack of precipitation with parts of New England and the New York City area ranking April 2015 among the driest on record.
The month began on a pleasant note with temperatures comfortably in the 60s and 70s through the 6th. Outside of some showers on the 3rd and 4th, the first week also stayed dry. However, after a potent back door cold front from New England swept southeast and stalled in Virginia on the 7th, conditions quickly turned dreary through the 10th. Back door cold fronts infamously lead to drastic changes to spring time weather and this set up was no different. Northeast winds ushered in chilly temperatures with highs only reaching the 40s and 50s along with persistent clouds and back to back showery days. In fact, showers in New Hampshire and areas of Massachusetts even switched over to snow, sleet and freezing rain on the 8th, with 0.5 – 2.0 inches of snow on top of icy coatings! Rainfall wise, most places averaged 0.25 – 0.50" but the Mid – Atlantic was particularly wet, with 1.00 – 1.50 inches of rain. This front finally cleared the region on the 11th as high pressure brought plentiful sunshine and warmed temperatures through the 13th.
By the 14th, a cold front stalled over the Mason Dixon Line leading to a wash out for the Mid Atlantic while areas further north experienced just a few brief showers. The days following remained very mild in the 60s and 70s with additional showers overnight on the 16th again impacting the Mid Atlantic, but missing New England. High pressure then gained control for the 17th to the 19th, with the 18th marking the first widespread 80 degree day since October.
The gorgeous weather was short lived, however, as a soaker hit the entire Northeast on the 20th, dumping 1.00 to 2.00 inches of rain. The system’s associated cold front brought severe storms to the Washington D.C metro area, dumping hail the size of half dollars and producing excessive lightning! See this intense lightning video taken in D.C.
The weather pattern turned very windy on the 22nd ahead of another strong cold front, which ushered in a summer like squall line. Wind gusts from the line in New Jersey were even severe enough to topple trees and power lines. Quite a few damage reports came in from South Jersey with Philadelphia International Airport recording a 71 mph wind gust!
By the final week of April, a disturbance stalled off the New England coast and, in typical spring fashion, brought a complete shift in the weather pattern. Consecutive cool, cloudy days took shape from the 23rd to the 27th with temperatures plummeting as much as 10 - 20 degrees. The sharp temperature drop even brought snow showers and flurries to areas from New England to New Jersey on the 23rd and 24th! Freezing temperatures were also observed early on the 25th with Allentown, PA tying its record daily low of 27 degrees. High pressure briefly took control for the 28th and temperatures rebounded into the 60s and 70s; however, a back door cold front late on the 29th led to another drastic temperature drop through southern New England and New York City. Behind the front, temperatures in the 70s quickly dipped into the 50s by the evening rush! This front sank south through the Mid Atlantic, cooling temperatures for the last day of the month.
Despite the wide range of temperatures observed in April 2015, it all evened out as the month finished right around normal. On the other hand, rainfall deficits were widespread. By the end of April, most finished 1 to 3 inches drier than normal with those around New York City and southern New England taking top honors for driest, only receiving 25 – 50% of the normal rainfall. In fact, April 2015 was the all-time driest April on record in Groton, CT which only saw a paltry 0.76 inches of rain for the entire month. Those in northeast Pennsylvania through the Hudson Valley were even categorized as “abnormally dry” by the US Drought Monitor (the first level of drought) as of April 28, 2015 due to consecutive months of below normal liquid precipitation.