They say "April showers bring May flowers" and this year, April really did live up to its expectations of bringing down the rain. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average precipitation for April in the contiguous US was 2.9 inches! This is 0.27 inches above average tying April 1953 as the 19th wettest April on record.
Not all of the country experienced a wetter than normal average, but the northwest, Midwest, and southeast definitely saw the effects of this heavy precipitation.
According to the NOAA, Iowa and Michigan both had their wettest April on record. The Iowa statewide average precipitation total of 6.71 inches was 3.76 inches above average and the Michigan precipitation total of 5.97 inches was 3.29 inches above average. Additionally, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin each ranked April 2013 as one of the ten wettest Aprils on record.
Consequently, all this Midwestern rain caused widespread flooding as the Mississippi River at St. Louis reached flood stage after dropping to near-record low levels at the beginning of the year.
However, when we look at the year to date (January-April), the nationally-averaged precipitation total was 9.84 inches, which is 0.13 inches below average.
So why the sudden increase in last months rain events?
Well April in general is particularly rainy as a result of season change. As the dry air of winter is replaced by moist air, the two interact with a strong low-pressure system that produce increased rainfall.
In addition, the NOAA reports that the average US temperature during April was 49.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.4 degrees below average. This marks the coolest April since 1997 when the average temperature was 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
Following these trends in precipitation and temperature help scientists and climate models predict future events that can better prepare communities.
For a complete national overview of temperature, precipitation, and other weather related events, see the NOAA National Climate Data Center.
Raining image via Shutterstock.