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Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcoming April With Some Degree of Trepidation

March is "going out like a lion" with snow, cold, and windy conditions this morning. However, the weather will gradually improve this afternoon as high pressure builds into the Northeast. The Mets and World Series champion Red Sox will play their season-openers today. If you're planning to attend the Mets' game at Citi Field, make sure you bundle up. High temperatures will be in the upper 40s along with a gusty wind.

I welcome April with some degree of trepidation. Three of the last eight years there have been flooding rains across southwestern Connecticut during April. Seven years ago, on Sunday, April 15, 2007, over three inches (3.02″) of rain fell in one day at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, causing widespread catastrophic flooding throughout the region. Unofficially, well over a half-foot of rain soaked many communities throughout the area. The rain didn’t let up until the following day, bringing the two-day total to 3.51 inches.

The previous year, on Sunday, April 23, 2006, 5.30″ of rain fell at the airport, highlighting a three-day stretch which saw nearly a half-foot (5.79″) of rain. That capped a stretch of nearly eight inches of rain (7.98″) in a 24-day period. The ground was already saturated prior to the deluge, since six of the first eight days of the month saw measured rain, producing nearly two inches (1.93″) in just over one week.

Based on the last 40 years, the average rainfall for April is 3.99 inches, ranking it third behind March (4.15″) and May (4.03″) as the wettest months of the year. The wettest April on record happened in 1983 when 10.72″ was recorded at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. The driest occurred just two years later when only 0.69″ fell in 1985. The most memorable single-day rain events other than April 23, 2007, happened on April 21 of 2000 (3.34″), April 10, 1983 (3.15″), and April 13, 2004 (3.08″).


April is certainly a month of extremes in southwestern Connecticut as temperatures have ranged from a high of 91 degrees on April 28, 1991, to a low of 18 degrees on April 7, 1982. The warmest April on record averaged 56.7 degrees in 1954, while the coldest happened 47 years ago when the average temperature was 43.4 degrees in 1966. The mean temperature climbs from 45 degrees at the start of the month to 54 degrees by April 30.

Snow is not out of the question for April. In fact, a trace of snow has fallen as late as April 28, while a half-foot fell on April 6, 1982, which was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and forced the postponement of the Yankees’ home debut in New York. The average snowfall for the month is less than an inch (0.09″). You may remember 18 years ago, though, when seven inches of snow fell April 10, 1996, capping the snowiest Winter on record in southwestern Connecticut when 78″ fell along the coast and over 100″ inland.

The length of daylight continues to grow considerably this month. Tomorrow's sunrise happens at 6:35, and it rises before 6 o’clock (5:51) at the end of the month. More dramatic, though, is the time of sundown. The Sun sets at 7:18 this evening, but it doesn’t drop below the horizon until 7:49 April 30. Daylight is increasing at the rate of two to three minutes per day in April. Daylight grows from 12 hours and 43 minutes at the start of April to almost 14 hours (13:58) by the end of the month.

Happy April!