April ranks as the third-warmest, despite a lingering La Niña
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite a few cold snaps and a lingering La Niña that generally has a cooling effect, the first four months of 2012 was the warmest winter-early spring on record for the contiguous 48 states, with the temperature across the country 5.4 degrees above the long-term average for the period.
A total of 26 states, all east of the Rocky Mountains reported record warmth for the four-month period, while an additional 17 states reported temperatures in their top-10 warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly summary.
April on its own was the third-warmest on record for the Lower 48, at 3.6 degrees above the long-term average. Warmer-than-average temperatures were reported across large parts of the country, with six states in the central U.S. and three states in the Northeast reporting top-1o temperatures. No state reported below-average April temperatures.
Near-record warmth in April followed a record-breaking March, when thousands of weather stations across the country set records for the month. Eight states reported that their above-average April readings were actually cooler than those from the previous month.
The warm conditions contributed to a low snowpack in many parts of the country, adding up to the third lowest April snowpack on record and leading to expanding drought conditions in many regions.
Temperatures for the current 12-month period (May 2011 to April 2012) was the warmest 12-month period on record for the contiguous 48 states, 2.8 degrees above the 20th century average.
In the West, the coastal states reported near-average temps for April, with higher readings at inland locations. There were even a few record lows early in the month, including near-freezing readings in Sacramento and Portland, Oregon, but by later in the month, parts of the West saw record highs, including Reno, which hit a high of 90 degrees on April 22. It was the first 90-degree April reading in Reno since record-keeping started in 1937.
Death Valley set a record for the most days over 110 degrees in April, breaking the previous mark set back in 1911.
Overall, dry conditions in the Great Basin and Desert Southwest led to developing drought in parts of the region, along with summer streamflows forecast to be less than 50 percent of normal in many areas.
The early meltdown of the snowpack, combined with winds and high temps resulted in fore conditions normally not seen until the peak of the summer. The western Great Basin has already experienced 60 wildfires this year, four times the average for the region.
This information was compiled from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for April 2012, published online May 2012, retrieved on May 8, 2012 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/4.