The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama
Climatologist

Volume 10, Number 1 - April 2019

As it often is, April was an active month in Alabama.  It can be very warm as seen in stations like Andalusia and Open Pond which reached 92°F on the last day of the month.  On the other end of the spectrum, thirty northern stations reported temperatures below freezing with killing frosts of 28°F chilling folks and gardens in Hamilton and Valley Head on the first two days of April 2019.

Several rounds of heavy rain passed through the state.  Four stations in south Alabama recorded over a foot of rain – Highland Home 2 S, Highland Home #2, Fayette, and at the top was Gainesville Lock at 12.71 inches.

The average temperature in Alabama, as recorded by NOAA, was very close to usual at +63.6°F, less than 1 °F above average.  Over the past 125 Aprils, there has been no trend in the temperature.  In terms of rainfall, the month was 31% more than average with 6.31 inches spread over the state.  Don’t be too alarmed by “31%” since the range is quite large, from less than 10% falling in April 1915 to 240% of average in April 1964.  So, being only 31% different from average places this year fairly close to normal.

After the nation experienced its lowest number of major tornadoes in 2018, this year, the count has picked up, with Alabama feeling the brunt so far.  We normally see about 60 tornadoes per year, and through April, the NWS in Birmingham reports 53, though only one was a “major” twister.  However, any tornado can be dangerous.  The one “major” tornado in Lee County in March took 23 lives, and indeed Alabama ranks first in the average number of tornado fatalities by state when looking at 1995-2014.  There are several reasons for this including lack of safe shelter, forests whose tree-branches become missiles, obscuration by low clouds and rain, and a population which is more densely spaced than in the Plains.  In actuality, tornado fatalities have been slowly declining in the US thanks to the improved warning and communication technologies available to almost everyone.  All of us, of course, want to see the number reduced to zero.

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist