It was as close to a normal April as you can get without hitting the nail directly on the head. The average temperature of 45.8 degrees was one-tenth of a degree below the 30-year normal for the month. Still, that hair below scratch officially made April the sixth consecutive month with below average temperatures in Buffalo Niagara. The most drastic change in temperature occurred between April 14 and 15, when the 22 degrees above-normal monthly high of 76 degrees on April 14 dropped 32 degrees by the next day.
On April 15, the daily high was just 44 degrees, which is 11 degrees below average.
Monthly averages for April
April 2014 30-year avg. +/- Last year
High: 56.0 55.0 +1.0 56.4
Low: 35.5 36.8 -1.3 36.3
Mean: 45.8 45.9 -0.1 46.3
Temperature Records: None
PRECIPITATION (Rain + melted snow)
Although the temperature was normal for April, the amount of rainfall was anything but. It was a wet month – the sixth wettest April in recorded weather history for Buffalo, with more than 5 inches of precipitation and less than an inch off the all-time record set more than a half-century ago. It was a slow and steady wet, however.
There were 16 days with “measurable rainfall,” but none was ever more than an inch. On two days during the month, the 5th and 15th, there was measurable snowfall, but only 1.2 total inches fell during April. That was enough to poke the seasonal snowfall total up to 129.9 inches, which is good for seventh place on the all-time snowiest winter in Buffalo’s recorded history. Buffalo, at the end of April, was third on the Golden Snow Globe list of cities over 100,000 population.
Its 129.9 inches was exceeded only by the 132 inches in Syracuse and national leader, Erie, Pa., which accumulated 138.4 inches for the season.
Total April precipitation: 5.1 inches
Historical record: 5.9 inches in 1961
30-year average: 3.01 inches
April 2013: 3.92 inches
April 2012: 3.04 inches
Total April snowfall: 1.2 inches
Historical record: 15.7 inches, April 1885
30-year average: 2.7 inches
April 2013: 0.3 inches
April 2012: 1.0 inch
Precipitation Records: None
April was the month of the great thaw. After a winter when the Great Lakes became more encrusted in ice than they’d ever been since 1979, moderating temperatures and rainfall over the region helped melt the ice on the Great Lakes.
For the first nine days of the month, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reported that more than half of the entire system remained under ice cover, but that figure continued to drop precipitously as the month wore on, with less than one-quarter still ice covered by month’s end.
More northerly Lakes Superior – 41.2 percent – and Huron – 25.4 percent – accounted for nearly all of that ice cover by April 30.
Great Lakes Ice Cover:
Month start: 69.1 percent Month End: 23.5 percent
Highest Percentage: 69.1 percent, April 1
Lowest Percentage: 23.5 percent, April 30
Average Percentage: 43.8 percent
Lakes Erie and Ontario
Lake Erie’s water temperature remained at a constant 32 degrees for the entire month of April, the first time that’s happened since 1996. The latest date into the spring that the lake has ever remained at the freezing point was May 23. That was in 1971.
It won’t happen this year. On April 2, the temperature rose to 33 degrees. Despite the chilly water temperature, the lake melted down from a high of nearly 70 percent ice covered at the start of the month down into the low single-digits by month’s end.
Its biggest drop occurred from April 3 to 4 when ice coverage dropped from 65 to about 52 percent.
The meltoff was enough for the New York Power Authority to start its gradual removal of the ice boom from the eastern end of Lake Erie on April 29. It dropped to below one-quarter covered in ice by April 14 and less than 10 percent by April 23.
Meanwhile, on the much-deeper, and less-ice-covered Lake Ontario, it achieved a full melting on April 27.
The water levels for the lakes have also nearly fully recovered – and are back to near long-term averages – after running below normal in recent years.
Lake Erie Ice Cover
Month start: 66.9 percent Month end: 1.9 percent
Highest percentage: 66.9 percent, April 1
Lowest percentage: 1.9 percent, April 30
Average percentage: 26.3 percent
Lake Erie Water levels
Monthly average: 571.5 feet above sea level (0.8 inches below average)
April 2013: 570.9 feet (-8.4 inches below average)
Long-Term average: 571.6 feet
Lake Ontario Ice Cover
Month start: 18.1 percent Month end: 0 percent
Highest percentage: 18.1 percent, April 1
Lowest percentage: 0 percent, April 27-30
Average percentage: 5.7 percent
Lake Ontario Water levels
Monthly Average: 245.5 feet above sea level (2.4 inches below average)
April 2013: 245.1 feet (7.2 inches below average)
Long-Term average: 245.7 feet
WINDS and SUNSHINE
The National Weather Service reported that “winds through the month averaged about a mile per hour less than normal of 12 mph” and that “sunshine was abundant this month.”
It was the sunniest April in four years.
In all, the sun shone unobstructed for 60 percent of the available time in which it could have over Buffalo Niagara in April.
That was 10 percent above average.
• Days with 100 percent of available sunshine: 5. April 16, 17, 19, 20, and 24
• Zero sunshine days: 2. April 15 and 30.
Assembled by T.J. Pignataro, News Staff Reporter, using data sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and GoldenSnowGlobe.com