April brought average temps, little snow after record winter

2014-05-05T18:15:00Z 2014-05-06T15:06:10Z April brought average temps, little snow after record winterBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

By the time April came around, the winter weather that just wouldn't end had, for the most part, ended.

"For the most part, there was nothing real out of the ordinary in April, with temperatures slightly above normal and precipitation below average," said Tom Freiders, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings.

In the season before, through March, a record 100.8 inches of snow fell on Billings but the month of April saw just 0.6 inches of new snow, well below its average of 8.3.

According to NWS data, that marks the 14th least snowiest April in 80 years of record-keeping in Billings.

About 1.18 inches of total precipitation fell through the month, which is 0.48 inches below average.

Temperature-wise, things were about a half degree warmer than normal with a mean of 46.7, an average high of 58.2 and an average low of 35.2. The warmest day was April 8 with a high of 74 while the coldest temperature, on April 1, was 21.

Freiders said that, overall, April was a calm and uneventful month in Billings.

"That's what's probably most noteworthy, that there's nothing really noteworthy," he said. "No extremes and no records fell for the month."

The same held mostly true for much of the region as well.

Miles City's mean temperature of 44.5 was a little more than a degree cooler than usual and its 0.33 inches of precipitation was about an inch less than normal. One record there did fall, however, on April 1 with a record low for the day of 4 degrees, breaking a 47-year-old record of 10 degrees.

April in Livingston brought a mean of 44.6 degrees and an average high of 57.6, both about 2.5 degrees warmer than usual. Its 1.64 inches of precipitation are 0.13 less than average.

In Sheridan, Wyo., the mean temperature checked in at 43.8 degrees, just 0.2 warmer than usual, and its average high of 57.4 degrees was exactly the normal. The area saw 0.6 inches fewer than its normal precipitation, with 1.54 inches.

A few areas, such as Red Lodge and the foothills on the Big Horn Mountains near the Wyoming border, did get hammered a few times with snow storms that, on at least one occasion, dropped more than two feet of snow in a day.

"The pattern was fairly quiet for the month, but there were a few areas in the north-northeast-facing foothill locations such as Red Lodge and the Big Horns," Freiders said. "Those two were the bulls-eyes for that."

Looking ahead, Freiders said that May in the Billings region could be cooler and wetter than normal.

That could start this week, with a forecast featuring rain and possible snow, along with highs as low as 43 degrees and lows nearing freezing.

"Our outlook climate trends indicate trends toward above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures for the month," Freiders said. "We're starting that this week with a storm system moving in."

May in Billings typically sees average high and low temperatures of 67.5 and 43.6 degrees, with a total average of 55.6.

About 2 inches of snow and 2.18 inches of precipitation fall in May, making it, on average, the wettest month of the year in Billings.

With such a snowy winter, snowpack in the surrounding areas is at about 150 percent of normal, meaning that if conditions are right, flooding could occur with the right conditions.

"It's something we'll definitely be watching over the next few weeks," Freiders said. "If it's more of a gradual warming and near-normal temperatures, flooding could be on the normal side. But if it stays cool, more snow falls in the mountains and it heats up quick and melts out quick, that could result in more significant potential for flooding."

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