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Local Weather History: Historical Perspective of Early April 2021 Record Warmth

Very impressive record warmth has been experienced early April 2021. Its magnitude & persistence is a rarity so early in the spring.

Posted: Apr 9, 2021 3:59 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2021 10:57 AM

It has been a very warm start to April.  Note the surge in the number of Growing Degree Days (GDDs) right up the Wabash Valley into the area.  Interestingly we are on par with northern Arkansas for the number of GDDs in April.  Even northern Ohio, which is having an extremely warm start, is equal to northern Arkansas.

This is the greatest number of GDDs so early since 2012.

We hit 71 March 9 & 10, beating the record on the 9th of 69 set in 2000.  We tied the record 71 set in 2010 on March 10.

The 71 was 11 days ahead of the normal first 70 high.

March was the 6th warmest on record at Greater Lafayette.  We saw 8 days of 70 or better in March with a 77 on March 24.  This was no where near the record of 87 set in 1910, however.  That is the all-time record high for the month of March.

That 77 was an early first 75 or more temperatures (15 days earlier than normal).

We hit 82 April 5, 15 days ahead of the normal first 80 high.  82 also occurred April 6.

Our high hit 85 on April 7, beating the normal first occurrence of 85 by 37 days!

Only 3 other years have seen 85 so early (2012 [86], 1988 [85], 1910 [87]).

Maximum temperatures April 1-9:

85  Morocco, Purdue University Airport

84  6 SE Covington, 3 E Attica, Kentland Airport, Pine Village, WLFI Ob Site

83  Veedersburg

82  3 E Fowler, Remington, 5 W Delphi

81  Rochester-Fulton County Airport, Flora Municipal Airport, Peru Municipal Airport, Winamac

80  Rensselaer-Jasper County Airport, Grissom ARB

79  Monticello-White County Airport, Frankfort Muncipal Airport, Kokomo Muncipal Airport, Galveston Airport, 2 NW Crawfordsville, 1 N New Market

Only 9 of the 142 years of record-keeping at Purdue have seen temperatures get to 83 on or before April 7.

We average such an occurrence only once every 23.3 years.

We also saw 3 consecutive days in the 80s on or before April 7.

This has only happened 6 times in 142 years. 

Warm temperature anomalies this March & April have been the greatest since 2012.

High temperatures anomalies for the last 7 days are incredible over a massive area of the central & eastern U.S.

In terms of warmth & the consistency of these warm anomalies, this the most anomalous warm pattern since last November & before that, February 2017 (near record number of 60s days).

Mean temperatures are very impressive as well.

Rainfall is actually above normal for the past 30 days.

However, the past 7 days has seen the heavy rains northwest, west & well south of our area.

Our spring advancement & vegetation is around two weeks earlier than normal here at West Lafayette.  According to US Phenology Network, vegetation advanced at this level typically occurs every 11-20 years.  Farther north in the viewing area is every 7-11 years.

In parts of the Northern Plains & northern Great Lakes, spring & vegetation is 3.5-4 weeks ahead of normal.

Crabapples are blooming, apples are beginning to bloom, Black Walnuts & Pecans are budding, oaks are flowering.  Sugar & Black maples are flowering & leaves are unfurling, Red & Silver Maples are foliating with full-grown seeds.  Ohio Buckeyes have foliated & nearing blooming, tuliptrees are all greened up with young 1/4 to 1/2 full-growth foliage (some crowns were thinned out by the hard freeze April 2 after leaves began to unfurl).  The Eastern Redbuds are blooming & the woods are carpeted in Mayapples & other spring flowering ephemerals.  Overall, the green-up is occurring quickly.

I even noticed some corn fields planted, especially on the Wea Plains on that drier, warmer, sandy-loam soil.  Other field work has also occurred on loamy, silty & clay-loam soils. 

The broccoli & Brussels sprouts in my garden have been growing very well!  The spinach, carrots & lettuce planted in late March is also growing very well!  It is the fastest I have seen crops in my gardens grow so early since 2012.  Another early & good planting year was 2010.

Recent unusual warm, strong winds & sunny days have led to topsoils to become drier than normal over the northwestern half of the viewing area for the time of year.  It is very dry for early April north of the Kankakee River & north of the Fort Wayne area.

The southeastern half has more normal to wetter-than-normal topsoil conditions for the time of year.

So I took 6 years that had 3 consecutive 80s days at or before April 7 & plugged them in to see if they had commonality with them for June-July-August.

This is just for the fun of it, much, much more goes into an outlook than just pulling up years that had one temperature or one temperature stretch similar to your current year.

Nonetheless, all 5 years show dry anomaly from the Plains to Corn Belt to Northeast U.S & even in the Southeast, while in far Southeast it was wetter (mainly from tropical systems).  The Southwest had a wet anomaly with stronger monsoon.

I then took that data & added on the years that reached or exceeded 83 on or before April 7.  Even with the "Year of the Flood" 2003 very wet summer, there was still a substantial dry signature in the area with core of the drought Oklahoma to Iowa & southwestern Wisconsin to North Dakota.

2003 is the year that bucked the trend with a wet summer after a dry start.

Very wet areas were the deep Southeast, Appalachians, the East Coast & then above normal rainfall was found in the Desert Southwest & from Arkansas to Kentucky.

According this analog data, the average drought status of June-July-August in a good chunk of the area is Moderate to Severe (D1-D2).  It could worsen or improve a bit at times, however......that is just the average on the D0-D4 scale from "abnormally dry" to "extreme drought".

Keep in mind that I am still forecasting a hotter than normal summer like 2011, 2012 with our first 100s in the viewing area since 2012.

However, when you just take these 5 years of 3 or more 80s days consecutively before or on April 7 so early & these rare 80s stretches so early, June & July show slightly warmer anomaly, while August has a cool anomaly!

Add that all up & you get this..........a cooler than normal summer overall.

It appears that the cooler summers of 1907 & 1910 are weighing the data down, but the Plains warm anomaly is there (especially Southern Plains).

I tacked on the years that had 83 or better on or before April 7 to that batch.

It shows hot, hot anomalies in the Plains & parts of the Rockies, but cooler summer in the East.

2003 is weighing this down a bit, as it was a cooler summer.

West Lafayette
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Rensselaer
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Fowler
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Williamsport
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Crawfordsville
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Frankfort
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Delphi
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Monticello
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Logansport
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Feels Like: 37°
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