April was an active month for tornadoes, wildfires and late-season winter weather
- The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in April was 50.7°F, which is 0.4°F below average, ranking in the middle third of the 128-year record. Generally, temperatures from the Northwest to the Great Lakes and into the mid-Mississippi Valley were below average, with much of the Southwest, Deep South and portions of the East Coast above average.
- April precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 2.58 inches, 0.06 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the historical record. Precipitation was above average across portions of the Northwest, northern Rockies and Plains, Great Lakes and Northeast and below average across the Southwest as well as the central and southern Plains.
- Two late-season winter storms brought blizzard conditions to the Northern Rockies and Plains during April with reports of 1-2 feet of snow and drifts of 4-8 feet from Montana to the Dakotas. A late season nor’easter brought more than a foot of snow to portions of the Northeast in mid-April.
- Dry and windy conditions across the Southwest and Plains contributed to an active start to the wildfire season. As of May 3, the largest fire across the U.S., the Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico, consumed more than 145,000 acres and was 20% contained. Across all 50 states, 1.1 million acres have burned from January 1 through May 3 — 160% of average for this time of year.
- Several tornado outbreaks occurred during April, contributing to an above-average tornado count for April.
- According to the May 3 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 53.8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought. Severe to extreme drought was widespread across the western half of the CONUS and parts of Hawaii.
The Alaska statewide April temperature was 25.2°F, 1.9°F above the long-term average. This ranked among the middle one-third of the 98-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were below average across much of the Southeast Interior and Panhandle regions and above average across much of the West Coast and Aleutian regions.
For the January-April period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.9°F, 0.8°F above average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Temperatures were above average across parts of the West and also along the East Coast. California ranked sixth warmest on record for this period. Temperatures were below average in parts of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes.
The Alaska January-April temperature was 13.5°F, 3.3°F above the long-term average, ranking in the warmest third of the record for the state. Above-average temperatures were observed across much of the western and southern half of the state with the warmest departures from average occurring in portions of south-central Alaska.
Multiple late-season snow events contributed to a wet April for North Dakota, which reported its second wettest such month on record. Oregon and Minnesota ranked seventh wettest. In contrast, New Mexico had its second-driest April on record and Kansas ranked third driest.
April is climatologically one of the driest months of the year across Alaska. Even so, the state of Alaska, as a whole, ranked as the fourth-driest April in the 98-year record. All regions other than the North Slope received below-average precipitation for the month.
The January-April precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 8.25 inches, 1.22 inches below average, ranking 13th driest on record. Precipitation was above average across parts of the northern Plains, Great Lakes, mid-Mississippi Valley and the Northeast. Precipitation was below average across much of the West, central Plains and Deep South during the January-April period. California ranked driest on record while Nevada and Utah ranked third driest for this four-month period.
Despite a dry April, precipitation averaged across Alaska for the January-April period ranked eighth wettest and was generally above average from Bristol Bay to the Panhandle with the Central Panhandle region experiencing its wettest January-April on record.
According to the May 3 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 53.8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 4 percentage points from the end of March. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across portions of the West, central Plains and Deep South. Drought contracted or was eliminated across portions of the lower Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes, the Northern Rockies and Plains, and Pacific Northwest, and across portions of Hawaii.
This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making. For more detailed climate information, check out our comprehensive April 2022 U.S. Climate Report scheduled for release on May 12, 2022.