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April: Cloudy, mild and wet

By Doug Webster | May 19, 2019

Spring’s middle month had no shortage of gloomy, damp weather as the seasons continued to clash. April and May typically are filled with clouds and damp weather before the jet stream lifts northward enough to allow for summer to bloom.

Spring comes even more slowly to New England because of the still-cool Atlantic Ocean and the tendency for winds to blow off of the ocean at this time of year. These onshore winds pick up moisture from the ocean creating the normally cloudy weather we see.

The first third of April was not all that active with a few spritzes of showers, but also some decent days with mild temperatures. The jet stream became more energized during the middle and end of the month producing heavier rain events and a greater number of cloudy days.

Despite the gloominess and perception that April was cool, temperatures were actually quite mild. Nashua’s average temperature of 48.3 was 2.4 degrees above normal. April 2019 tied as the 13th-warmest April since 1885. No record readings were observed last month.

Daily temperatures alternated from several above to several below normal through April 12, then readings were persistently above normal until the last five days of the month when chilly readings were observed.

Daily average temperatures were as much as 21 degrees above normal on April 20, and were as chilly as 9 degrees below normal on April 11. The highest reading for the month of 78 degrees was observed on April 20, while temperatures fell to 22 degrees on April 2.

Temperatures remained in the upper 30s on April 9 and April 10 when some areas saw a coating of snow. Very mild nighttime readings were observed from April 20 into April 21, when temperatures barely fell below 60.

The perception that April was wet was correct for the Gate City. The total of 6.34 inches was 2.01 inches above normal, making April the seventh-wettest out of 134 years since rainfall records began in 1884.

Sixteen days saw measurable precipitation during April, five days more than normal but not a record in Nashua. 1936 saw 18 such days. There were 13 days with 0.10 inch of precipitation or more last month and that is a tie with 1953 for the most during April.

Boston set a new record for days with measurable precipitation with 21 for both April and any month. At our state capital in Concord, 19 days saw measurable precipitation during April, setting a new record for the month.

We saw daily record precipitation amounts on two days. 1.21 inches was recorded on April 15, breaking the value of 0.97 inches from 1948. The 1.79 inches recorded on April 27 broke the record of 1.49 inches from 1973.

After a very dry March, the rainfall during April was quite helpful in keeping down the wildfire threat sometimes seen at this time of year. The recent rains also will be a great help for all of the blooming vegetation during the next few weeks. Trees use a huge amount of water to put out their leaves each season.

The wet April also helped to bring the precipitation total back up to snuff for 2019. The total through the end of April of 16.23 inches was but 0.79 inches above normal.

No snow was recorded at Pennichuck Water Works, but other local stations did see small amounts, including 0.2 inches at Hudson and 0.1 inch at the FAA station in Nashua.

Having no snow in April is not unusual, it has happened 38 times since 1885, and there have been 52 years with no measurable snow. The past three Aprils have brought Nashua a few inches of snow each.

For the season, Nashua’s snow total of 41.5 inches is 13.4 inches below normal. Last season we saw a surplus of 27 inches. The 2018-19 snow season was the 28th-least snowy out of 107 years with snowfall records.

Much of the northern half of northern New England saw a very snowy season this year with some areas just losing their snow cover during the past couple weeks.

Final sunshine data for Blue Hill Observatory in Canton, Massachusetts, showed only 35 percent of the possible sunshine, 14 percent below normal.

April was the 6th-cloudiest April at Blue Hill since sunshine records began in 1886. Well above normal sunshine was observed during the previous four months.

More gloomy, damp weather has been with us to start May. The war between the seasons typically lasts for a few more weeks before things settle down some. May can see highly variable temperatures during short periods of time.

It’s all about wind direction this time of year. A west wind we can bring the sizzle of summer but the east wind can bring chilly temperatures, clouds and sometimes drizzle or light rain.

For the gardener, hardy plantings are good anytime, but other vegetables and flowers that can be damaged by frost should not be planted until Memorial Day. Frosts are not unusual through mid-May and can occur infrequently until late month. The average date for the last 32 degree reading locally was May 10.


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