You didn't imagine it: April was hottest ever

May 02, 1994|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Sun Staff Writer

If the weather has seemed a little steamy to you lately, you're right. April came up short on showers, but the month was the warmest ever on record in Baltimore.

No surprise to Marylanders -- who have been donning tank tops and other summer attire to combat the recent heat -- but the mercury has perked along well above normal for most of the past month, according to figures supplied by the National Weather Service.

The average April temperature of 63.3 degrees Fahrenheit measured at the Custom House downtown, where weather has been tracked since 1871, was a half-degree above the previous record of 62.8 degrees in 1985.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where weather data has been collected since 1951, last month's average temperature was 59.6 degrees, topping the old record of 58.4 degrees tallied in 1960.

Last week's hot spell, with two days in the low 90s, helped warm things up. The daytime high temperatures for the month ran nearly 8 degrees above normal downtown, and nearly 7 degrees above normal at the airport, according to Ken Shaver, a weather forecaster at BWI.

But it was really the lack of cold snaps that produced April's record-setting average temperature, Mr. Shaver said.

Indeed, the average low temperature for the month also set new records. It was 53.2 degrees at the Custom House, compared with 53.1 degrees set back in 1871; at BWI, the new record was 48.2 degrees, way above the previous average low of 45.9 degrees, which occurred in 1952 and again in 1955.

"We never really had any cold except for a little one- or two-day event back in early April," Mr. Shaver said. There were only three days in the city when temperatures were below normal, and only

four days at the airport.

In a month when frosts are still possible, the thermometer in the city fell no lower than 38, and only once, back on April 8. The thermometer dipped to 33 at the airport that day.

Overall, daily low temperatures averaged about six degrees above normal, Mr. Shaver said.

To the great relief of Maryland farmers, April was a little drier than normal, after three straight months of wet weather. Just 2.53 inches of rain fell last month, compared with normal precipitation of 3.09 inches.

Only six weeks ago, growers were complaining that their fields were too soggy to plow.

The ground is still far from dry. Last month notwithstanding, precipitation for the year still is running about 7 inches above normal, Mr. Shaver pointed out.

What's in store for May? More warmth, probably, and maybe a few more showers.

The weather service's 30-day forecast predicts a 57 percent chance of above-normal temperatures, and a little better than a 50 percent chance that it will be wetter than normal.

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