Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
By: Christopher C. Burt , 9:33 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
April 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary
April featured disastrous floods in the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan (where a landslide on May 2nd killed as many as 2,700). Unusual warmth persisted in much of Europe and southern China while more cold and snow continued in the eastern half of the U.S. A violent tornado outbreak hit the U.S. Midwest and Southeast late in the month and a strong tropical cyclone pounded Queensland, Australia. Preliminary NASA data indicates that this past April was globally the 2nd warmest on record (since 1880).
Below are some of the month’s highlights.
Global temperature anomalies ( in C°) for the past April. According to NASA, it was the 2nd warmest April on record since 1880. NASA map.
After a quiet start to the tornado season, a violent tornado outbreak occurred on April 27-29 in the Midwest and Southeast. Some 38 tornadoes were reported resulting in 32 deaths, mostly in Arkansas and Mississippi. The single deadliest tornado was an EF-4 that roared across Pulaski and White Counties in Arkansas killing 15.
EF-4 tornado damage at Mayflower, Arkansas where 15 people were killed in and around the town by the storm on April 27th. Photo from NASA Earth Observatory web site.
The same storm system entrained a deep plume of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico resulting in an amazing rainstorm in the Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida area. Pensacola saw 20.47” (520 mm) of rainfall over a 24-hour period on April 29-30 (including 5.68”/144 mm in just one hour on the night of April 29th) and an all-time calendar day rainfall record of 15.55” (395 mm) on April 29th. The storm punctuated what became the wettest single month in the city’s records (since 1879) with a total of 29.53” (750 mm). Mobile picked up 11.24” (285 mm) on April 29th, its 3rd greatest calendar day rainfall (since 1871) and making this the wettest April on record with a 18.09” (459 mm) total.
Nationwide, precipitation and temperatures averaged close to normal although the long cold winter persisted in the Upper Great Lakes region with more snow and cold whereas drought conditions worsened in the Southern Plains.
Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) rankings for April in the contiguous U.S. For the first time in a long while no single state ranked among the top 10 coldest or warmest month in question on record. Wisconsin had its 2nd wettest April on record. NCDC maps.
SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
A devastating wild fire, fanned by hot dry down-slope winds (akin to the Santa Ana winds of California) struck Valparaiso, Chile on April 12-16 resulting in the deaths of 15 and destruction of at least 2,500 homes. 11,000 were left homeless by the blaze.
The wild fire in Valparaiso as it was beginning on April 12th. The blaze killed 15 and burned 2,500 homes to the ground. Photo by Alberto Miranda/Getty Images.
Drought in portions of southern Brazil worsened, with Sao Paulo especially hard hit as its main reservoir shrank to its lowest level on record.
In Argentina, a spell of very hot weather in early April was followed by severe thunderstorms and hailstorms on April 7-8. The resulting floods in the Neuquen region were said to be the worst in 40 years.
April was generally another warm month across most of Western Europe although a sharp mid-month cold wave brought winter-like conditions to portions of Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe. Snow fell at mid-level elevations including Sarajevo in Bosnia and, at higher elevations, the snowfall was the greatest observed for the entire winter (in the Tattra and Carpathian Mountains). In the European portion of Russia some late season cold records were set, such as the -3.7°C (25.3°F) reading at Volgograd on April 26th.
April was the 4th warmest such on record for Germany (since 1871) according to DWD data with temperatures averaging 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. For the entire December-April period it has been the 2nd warmest such period observed (with only Dec-Apr 2006-2007 warmer). The warmest temperature during the month was a 26.6°C (79.9°F) reading at Bad Kreuznach on April 25th and the coldest -16.2°C (2.8°F) on April 16th on Zugspitze (Germany’s highest mountain). The coldest low elevation reading was -6.4°C (20.5°F) at Deutschneudorf-Bruderwiese on April 17th. The maximum calendar day precipitation was 73.7 mm (2.90”) at Coburg, Bavaria on April 26th (61 mm/2.40” of this fell in just a three hour period).
In the U.K. April was tied for its 3rd warmest April on record (since 1910) with a +1.8°C (+3.2°F) departure from normal temperature. Rainfall was close to average nationwide. The warmest observed temperature during the month was 22.0°C (71.6°F) at Aviemore, Inverness-shire on April 28th and the coldest -5.2°C (22.6°F) at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on April 20th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall observed was 46.0 mm (1.81”) at Achfary, Sutherland on April 9-10.
Some extreme heat was experienced during April in West Africa. The temperature at Linguere, Senegal peaked at 47.0°C (116.6°F) on April 18th, which was the hottest temperature measured on earth for the month and just short of the all-time April monthly record for Africa of 48.1°C (118.6°F) set at Kayes, Mali some years ago. Nearby Senegal, in Gambia, the temperature reached 45.0°C (113.0°F) at Fatoto on April 4th, which was just short of the Gambian all-time national heat record of 45.5°C (113.9°F) set at Basse Santa Su in 2009. Burkino Faso also saw near record heat with a 45.6°C (114.1°F) reading at Dori on April 17th.
One of the biggest weather-related stories of the month was the floods and landslides in Afghanistan. Flash floods resulted in the deaths of at least 100 in the northern provinces in late April and the heavy rains culminated with a devastating landslide in the Argo District of Badakhshan Province (this is in the far northeastern Afghan Pamir region) on May 2nd killing an estimated 2,000-3,000. I’ll have more about this event in my May summary.
Heavy April rains in Afghanistan culminated in the deadly landslide at the village of Abe Barik in Badakhshan Province. At least 2,000 and perhaps as many as 3,000 perished. Photo credit RSOE.
Siberia saw some wild extremes of temperature ranging from the coldest reading measured in the northern hemisphere for the month at Ekyuchchyu with -51.8°C (-61.2°F) on April 1st in northern Siberia to a 28.7°C (83.7°F) reading at Chemal, Altai Republic in southern Siberia also during the first week of April.
During the period of April 21-30 one of the worst April heat waves on record affected Yunnan Province in southern China. The temperature at Yuanjiang hit 42.0°C (107.6°F), just missing the Chinese national April heat record of 42.2°C (108.0°F) also set at Yuanjiang but on April 25, 1958. The same period (April 21-30) also saw record heat along the coastal shores of Bangladesh between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. All-time heat records (for any month) were set at Chittagong Airport with 39.6°C (103.3°F) and Sylhet with 39.2°C (102.6°F).
Temperature and precipitation were, on a nationwide basis, close to normal during April. However, there was a wide range of extremes with a large portion of Queensland seeing its warmest April on record (overall it was Queensland’s 2nd warmest April on record) and a large portion of South Australia seeing its wettest such (overall the 3rd wettest for the entire state). Tropical Cyclone Ita pounded Queensland on April 12-13 and was the strongest tropical storm to hit the state in three years. Prior to landfall the storm had sustained winds up to 155 mph and gusts to 185 mph but, fortunately, it weakened considerably prior to landfall. Thanks to advance preparation there was no loss of life reported, however damage, mainly to agriculture, reached almost US$1 billion.
Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) deciles for Australia during April. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The hottest temperature observed in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere during the month was 41.0°C (105.8°F) measured at Bidyadanga, Western Australia on April 3rd and also at Bradshaw on April 2nd. The coldest reading was -7.5°C (18.5°F) at Charlotte Pass, New South Wales on April 25th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 376.0 mm (14.80”) at Nash’s Crossing Alert, Queensland on April 13th as a result of Cyclone Ita.
NEW ZEALAND and OCEANIA
One of the biggest weather stories during April was the incredible flooding that struck the Solomon Islands during the first week of the month. A slow moving tropical cyclone swept over the island chain unleashing torrents of rainfall (as much as 1000 mm/40” in a four-day span at Gold Ridge Mine in Guadalcanal with half of this falling in just 24 hours). At least 23 flood-related fatalities occurred (with a further 25 listed as missing) and 15,000 of the island’s 600,000 residents lost their homes. It was perhaps the worst weather-related disaster to affect the Solomon’s in modern history.
Homes collapse into the Matanikau River in Honiara, the Solomon Island’s capital, during the devastating flood in early April. Photo from World Vision.
for much of the country New Zealand was unusually warm during April (+1.2°C/+2.2°F above normal) with the North Island placing in its top 4 warmest Aprils on record. Some sites saw their highest April temperatures ever recorded, including Tauranga where it reached 28.4°C (83.1°F) on April 7th (POR back to 1913). Rainfall was variable with some areas seeing their wettest April on record while others reported only 50% of average. Among the wet locations was Christchurch where 244 mm (9.60”) was measured, some 499% of normal (and 2nd wettest April since 1863) and back-to-back with a record wet March. In fact, between just this March and April Christchurch received 71% of their average annual precipitation with a 424 mm (16.69”) two-month total.
The warmest temperature observed in New Zealand during April was 29.6°C (85.3°F) at Whakatane on April 7th and coldest -4.2°C (24.4°F) at Pukaki Aerodrome on April 29th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 197 mm (7.75”) at Akaroa on April 17th.
New Zealand precipitation deciles for April. Note the rather large area that observed wettest on record amounts for the month. Map courtesy of NIWA.
The coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere and the world during April was –76.0°C (-104.8°F) measured at Vostok on April 26th.
KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data, and Michael Theusner of Klimahaus for German data.
Christopher C. Burt
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