Do April Showers really bring May flowers? The history behind the phrase…

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The phrase “April showers bring May flowers” is a popular saying used often during the month of April. In Western New York this is typically the time when the last bit of snow turns to all rain as temperatures climb, and increased rain shower activity sparks the beginning of flowers and plants to really start blooming in the area. Despite the way the phrase goes, our spring so far has been anything BUT “showery,” until today…

April showers are now finally getting into full swing after a dry start to spring in Rochester. Since March 1st, we’ve been running a precipitation deficit of -2.25″ as of yesterday (April 10th.) The rain that we saw today will definitely be a huge help to these numbers, and will begin to contribute to the typical “April showers” we see according to the famous phrase.

The saying “April showers bring May flowers” itself actually originates from the United Kingdom, where April for them is one of the more soggy months based on the position of the jet stream. Since this area typically has a cooler climate, the lower temperatures often push back the appearance of flowers to late April and early May. The phrase is also believed to come from an early poem with a line that goes, “Sweet April showers, do spring May flowers.”

Photo courtesy: NOAA

You would think that this old saying suggests April is the rainiest month of the year, but April in Rochester isn’t always the month with the most annual rain. June and July are also known to produce some of the highest precipitation numbers year round. If you look at the past 10 years or so of annual precipitation in Rochester, April, June and July often compete for the highest rain amounts throughout the year.

Rochester Monthly Precipitation

Data courtesy: weather.gov

So does the phrase actually ring true? Most of the time the answer is yes! The main reason being that flowers in general need plenty of sunlight and water to grow, so April showers are welcome and very much needed to kick start the blooming process after a long, cold and snowy winter.

Although, some flowers can start blooming as early as April based on what our winter was like and if temperatures increase enough. This winter in particular was generally mild with less snow than average, and many places are already starting to see the buds on trees begin to bloom, and it’s not even the middle of April yet.

All in all, the phrase is used less in verbatim as it is a way to look ahead to better and warmer weather days. Since the changing of the seasons often comes with more active weather that can make it feel a bit more lousy outside, we use the phrase to keep the hope alive, and to look on the brighter side that nicer weather is just around the corner.

Hopefully the rain we’re finally getting is beneficial for YOUR flowers and plants in your yard. Have you noticed the different trees and flowers beginning to bloom in your area too?

Is there more rain in the forecast? Get the latest forecast update HERE.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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