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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 04/ 1/2008

April Weather: Both Appalling and Amazing

By Jason Samenow

When most people think about April weather, I would bet what comes to mind is beautiful sunshine, blooming flowers, the onset of warm temperatures as well as a few tame showers (hence the saying "April showers brings May flowers"). What many of us tend to repress is that April can have its share of dismal weather -- particularly during the first half of the month. Making matters worse, by the time April comes around, we all have spring fever but early April is frankly... frustratingly fickle.

Consider last year, when high temperatures were below 50 for 5 consecutive days April 5-9, including snow April 6 and 7. As Matt noted earlier, temperatures were below average for a 17-day stretch. Between April 5 and 17, temperatures were a staggering 10 degrees below average at Reagan National (DCA) with highs mainly in the 50s.

You can't count on good weather in early April. Just last week, I computed the odds of mild (60+), dry weather for an April 5 outdoor wedding were only 36%.

On April 6, 1987, I remember shivering through a meaningless exhibition baseball game at RFK between the Mets and Phillies. Mixed rain and snow was falling and the temperature was 38. When officials suspended play due to the miserable weather, a chorus of boos erupted from the baseball-deprived crowd. Times have changed and while I can guarantee a more positive atmosphere for baseball in Washington early this April, I can't guarantee better weather. Be prepared for anything and be sure to check our NatCasts.

April probably scores its "good weather" reputation from conditions experienced during the second half, when average highs climb from the mid 60s to around 70. The warmth can come on abruptly. After last year's 17-day cold snap, we were rewarded with five 70+ degree days and four 80+ degrees days during the last 12 days of the month.

Once in a great while though, late April can be cold . In 1875, the high temperature was just 33 degrees, with a low of 25 on April 18! Of course, that was before global warming was on the public agenda, or not...

Some more April climate facts for DCA :

  • The hottest recorded temperature to occur in April is 95, and it has been reached four times (in 2002, 1976, 1960 and 1915).
  • The coldest minimum temperature occurred on April 1, 1923, when it dipped to 15 (before the observing station moved to Reagan National, however).
  • Average snowfall is a trace. One inch or more of snow has not accumulated during the month since 1924 when five inches fell. Between 1899 and 1924, one inch or more of snow occurred on six separate occasions.
  • The wettest month occurred in 1889 when 9.13" fell.
  • The driest month occurred in 1985 when just 0.03" fell.

Do you have any good and/or bad memories of April weather in Washington?

By Jason Samenow  | April 1, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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