Prolonged Winter

By Russell Russ

April began cool and snowy and it stayed that way throughout most of the month. Warm and beautiful early spring days were few and very far between this April. It was more like winter was the unwanted guest that just would not leave the party. Late March showed signs of a possible arrival of spring, but early April snowfall dashed those hopes. Persistent and regular snow or sleet was the norm until the third week of the month. Cooler than normal temperatures lasted all through the month. March’s well above average snowfall left us all longing for spring, but as April progressed, the focus was not as much on spring, but that we just wanted winter to end.

April’s low temperature of 18 degrees was observed on April 6 and the high of 68 degrees was observed on both April 14 and 28. With an average monthly mean temperature of 39.0 degrees, it was 4.1 degrees colder than normal. There were no daily record temperatures this month, but overall this April was tied with 1965 as the sixth coldest April over the last 87 years. This was the case in much of the country this April. It was cool all over, especially in the Northeast.

Last year was Norfolk’s fourth warmest April; it was nearly 10 degrees warmer than this April. Norfolk’s warmest April was in 2010 with an average mean temperature of 49.4 degrees and the coldest was in 1943 with 36.8 degrees. Prior to this year, Norfolk’s April average monthly temperature has not been below 40 degrees since 1978.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.18 inches, just 0.05 inch below normal. Through April, our total precipitation for the year was 19.17 inches, 2.87 inches above normal. No deficit so far this year.

April’s snowfall total was 10.9 inches, exactly 5 inches above normal. Above normal, but not even in Norfolk’s Top 15 snowiest Aprils. The month began with 7 inches of snow on the ground. Finally, by April 21 the snow was all gone at the weather station, sixteen days later than last year. It did not accumulate, but it snowed for a few hours during the morning of April 30. A fitting end to a cold and snowy April.

The 2018 calendar year snowfall amount of 91.1 inches is already 1.3 inches above normal – for the entire calendar year. The 2017-18 winter season (October-April) snowfall total of 107.5 inches is 18.1 inches above normal. Interestingly, just two years ago during the 2015-16 winter season, Norfolk recorded a record-setting low snowfall total of just 35.5 inches – for the entire winter season.

An early look at May’s weather through May 20 shows that temperatures were running nearly 3 degrees warmer than normal. Hard to believe since the first three weeks of the month seemed so cool and wet. Two record-setting and one near record-setting warm days certainly affected this preliminary monthly average. It snowed on Monday, April 30 and on Wednesday, May 2 it was 85 degrees. On Thursday, May 3 it was 88 degrees. Welcome to New England weather.

By far, the biggest weather story of May will be the severe storms that hit many parts of the Northeast on May 15. During the thunderstorms that rolled through the state that afternoon, Norfolk received nearly 2 inches of rain (in little over an hour) and hail that was nearly golf ball-sized. Besides heavy rain and some minor wind and hail damage, Norfolk was spared the brunt of these storms. Several tornados were reported in Connecticut and eastern New York, resulting in widespread and extensive property and tree damage. Let’s hope the latter part of the month is more tranquil. A little drier and some more sunshine would be nice too.