May 01, 2022

A Much Colder Than Normal April: But How Unusual?

 April was a chilly month over the Northwest, but how chilly?   

It turns out the answer depends on where you are located.

The difference between this April's temperatures from normal across Washington State (below) shows that the entire state was well below normal.  The eastern side of the state was particularly frigid:  some areas were more than 6 degrees below normal.

Considering the west side of the state, the April mean temperatures at SeaTac Airport are plotted below.  

This April was the coolest since 2011.

April 2020 was in 15th place for the coolest April since the mid-1940s and was a bit more than 4F below normal.  So if you felt that you were cheated out of normal spring are right.

But if you really wanted to experience extraordinary April cold you had to be east of the Cascade crest.

Consider Yakima.  Wow.  It had the third coldest April temperature since the mid-1940s.   And the all-time record in 1955 was only slightly colder.

If you want a longer-term view, check out the April temperatures at Kennewick in the Tri-Cities, whose record goes back to the  1890s.

April was the fourth coolest in over 125 years!  Note the cold period in the 1950s and 1960s--that frigid period is associated with the cool phase of the Pacific Decade Oscillation (PDO), a mode of natural variability in the atmosphere.  

Impressively, this April was way cooler than the early part of the 20th century!

I know the question that is next on your mind.  Will we warm up in May?

I am a bit nervous about telling you the latest predictions, but here is the latest European Center ensemble prediction for the next 10 days.  Considerably cooler than normal over the entire region.

The official National Weather Service 8-14 day forecast for May 8-14th?   Below normal.

I could show you more, but it might start panic buying of firewood and heating pads.

The bottom line:  don't expect much warming very soon.  

There is good news in all this.  The snowpack situation will get better and better.  The risk of summer wildfires will decline.  The moisture levels in the soils of southeastern Washington look favorable.  And we will have a very extended springtime ski season.

My Mother's Day gift suggestion based on the latest forecast is found below.  Mom will be very pleased with this gift.

Reminder:    The Northwest Weather Workshop On May  7

If you are interested, check out the meeting website, which includes the agenda:

This year, the meeting will include several talks on the June 2021 heatwave and a session on wildfire meteorology.  Plus, more general presentations on local meteorology, regional climate, and weather technology.

You must register on the above website to attend:  the zoom link for the meeting will be emailed to you the week before the meeting.  The meeting is free.


  1. So, sorry to ask, but is the "the cool phase of the Pacific Decade Oscillation (PDO), a mode of natural variability in the atmosphere" a scheduled, recurring phase thingy like with the 11 year sunspot cycle, or it is La Nina | El Nino phase that just kinda happens based on other things?

    So, real question is, can we predict when the "cool phase of the Pacific Decade Oscillation (PDO)" is going to happen? So I know if I need to plant more spinach, peas, and carrots and fewer tomato, squash, and peppers?

    Thank you,


  2. "There is good news in all this. The snowpack situation will get better and better. The risk of summer wildfires will decline. The moisture levels in the soils of southeastern Washington look favorable." -- reason enough to hope the colder temperatures continue.

  3. Cotton thermal underwear?? Not in this climate! Wool or synthetic are the way to go if you want to stay warm in the cool damp.

  4. Coolest April since 2011... I recall the summer of 2011 being a particularly cool and cloudy one. Are we in for a similar summer this year? Or too far out to know?


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