By Nic Loyd, WSU meteorologist, and Linda Weiford, WSU News
Now, with gas costing $2.20 a gallon and the term of the country’s first black president winding down, we just emerged from an April that was almost as balmy. It got so warm that on some days temperatures in eastern Washington were on par with southern California and even Miami.
On April 20, we broke an all-time record for that date when the mercury in Spokane surged to 85 degrees. It topped out at 80 degrees the day before and the day after. The thermometer read unusually high early in the month as well, with April 1 reaching 68 degrees and the 8th day hitting 78.
Consider that the first time temperatures reached 80 degrees in 2011 was on June 22 – two months later than this year. And though you might recall that last April enjoyed above normal warmth, this year we’re talking about significantly above normal warmth.
While it’s uncommon for April to see temperatures in the upper 70s/low 80s, for it to happen on separate spells is plain rare. So it’s not surprising that the natural world has reacted by springing to life ahead of schedule.
Master gardeners with WSU’s Spokane County extension office report that April’s plant development was so lush that it seemed more like the end of May. Also, instead of tree and shrub species blooming one after another, many bloomed at the same time.
What caused these bursts of heat? Several strong ridges of high pressure drove up the temperatures and drove out the rain. Early indications are that the month of May will see unseasonably warm conditions as well. As you’re seeing, this week is no exception.
Weathercatch is a bimonthly column that appears in The Spokesman Review.