Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Western US Sizzles


The weather has been quite active of late, with some rain recently, some interior snows, but also record heat in parts of the Western US. As frequently occurs, as you get a strong area of low pressure or nor'easter in the East, that's typically accompanied by a deep trough and cool weather. In fact, it's been freezing in Florida (by Florida standards for April). Jacksonville hit 40 yesterday, Orlando hit 44 this morning, Miami was a cool 60 degrees both yesterday and today, and Key West bottomed out at a near-record of 64 degrees. 

Map of all-time April High Temperature records set
since Sunday (credit: wunderground.com)
But while the trough in the East has certainly been impressive, it's the heat in the middle and western part of the US that has been astounding. While not "summer in March," as it's not impacting the larger population centers of the country, nor is it obliterating records by 20 degrees, it's still extremely impressive for April. To the left is a map of JUST the monthly records set for April out West according to the wunderground.com's extremes page (caution...can't guarantee the page is perfectly quality controlled, as it was flagging a low of 28 in Daytona Beach, which did not occur...but it makes the point I'm trying to make here).

According to Weather Undergound's Dr. Jeff Masters, Death Valley hit 113 degrees on Sunday, which ties the hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States during the month of April...rather impressive. Some other noteworthy "all-time" April heat records set from this event:

- Phoenix hit 105 Sunday, tying the previous all-time April record set on 4/29/1992.
- Las Vegas hit 99 Sunday, tying the previous all-time April record from 4/27/2000.
- Scottsbluff, NE hit 93 yesterday, tying their previous all-time April record, set on 4/30/1992.
- Wolf Creek, MT hit 89, breaking the old all-Time April max of 88, set on 4/28/2001.
- Reno, NV hit 90, breaking the old record of 89 set on 4/30/1981.

So you can see it has been expansive too...places from California through Nebraska have set records. On top of this we had numerous daily high temperature records set the last two days across the Western Plains and Rockies. Texas through North Dakota west to the Pacific coast have all seen broken high temperature records since Monday and will see more the next 1-2 days (especially south). 

The take home message here appears to be that any strong ridging scenario this spring is poised to produce a good amount of heat. We've seen at least a couple big heat setups now, and this will be something to watch as we go into May.