Forecasting snow in April: How common is it seeing spring flakes fly?

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We know that this past winter was a strange one with below average snowfall for Rochester, but also above average monthly temperatures. Even though we’ve seen a bit more “Spring-like” weather these past couple of weeks, with the current pattern set up over the next week or so, we may finally be getting that taste of winter, just a few months later than usual.

Fast forward to now, the forecast is finally calling for some measurable snowfall, which may come as a shock to some considering we haven’t seen measurable snow in Rochester since March 24th (and it wasn’t much at 0.1 inches)! However, it’s not that uncommon to see snowfall even in the month of April. Spring always begins in late March, but all too often the snow doesn’t want to go away just yet. 

Lately our eyes have been drawn to the recent 6-10 day temperature and precipitation outlooks issued by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) as it features characteristics we haven’t seen all winter, but maybe we should have. Let’s look at the most recent CPC update for temperature:

Pivotal weather does an excellent job at graphically showing these outlooks. You can decipher them by looking at the legend below the map. The blue shades show the level of confidence as a percent that the average, observed temperatures over this period will be below average. The same goes for the red shades showing the confidence that temperatures will be above average

You can decipher the 6-10 day probability of precipitation outlook the same exact way, except this time the above normal precipitation is indicated by the green shades, and below normal precipitation is shown by the orange shades:

Notice how far down the blue shades reach. It nearly covers the entire U.S. from North Dakota down to Texas, from Maine through the Carolinas, and as far west as the Rocky Mountains.

Here in Rochester, it appears there is a 70-80% likelihood we will see below average temperatures over the next week or so. We’ll also have above normal odds at seeing more precipitation. This alludes to an active weather pattern, and when you mix both colder air and more storm systems passing through, there’s a decent chance to see some snowflakes.  

Let’s take a trip down the climate lane for a moment to put this more into perspective.

The last month where our average monthly temperature was below normal was November of 2019. Ever since the months of December, January, February, and March, we’ve had monthly average highs above normal. Well, that sure explains our mild winter! Even so far in April of this year we’ve been averaging 1.8 degrees above our average monthly high 44°F.

Here’s a few more fun stats to ponder regarding Rochester Snowfall Records. These are the top 10 highest snowfall totals for the month of April.

Stats courtesy of the National Weather Service.

Check out 2018, just two years ago where we saw 17.0” of snow during the month of April setting the record for the highest amount of snow seen in the month of April on record. This certainly goes to show that we do indeed get snowfall in Rochester during the month of April, and sometimes the totals are enough to make the record book. 

If you’re ever curious at what the general weather pattern will look like for us, you can go to https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ and play around with the interactive maps available by the National Weather Service CPC.  

~ Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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