Washington’s April weather was a bit manic and mercurial, keeping forecasters on their toes. There was freezing weather at the beginning, then three days in the 80s near the end of the month, which was capped by a raging wind storm.

The month’s average temperature, 58.2 degrees, was 1.4 degrees warmer than normal and the 29th warmest on record. Rainfall, which only totaled 2.2 inches, was 0.86 inches drier than normal and the 44th driest observed.

As warm and cool air masses battled, the month’s final day brought about a siege of wind, unleashing Washington’s strongest April gust since at least 1998: 62 mph.

How the month played out

As one might expect during a volatile transition month like April, the weather was quite variable, with alternating cool and warm stretches.

The calendar below shows the cooler-than-normal (blue) and warmer-than-normal (orange) periods while illustrating the days on which it rained. It also highlights the coolest and warmest days of the month.

The North American weather pattern was changeable, featuring intervals of warm high pressure overhead that were followed by the passage of stormy low-pressure zones and flanked by pushes of cool Canadian air.

Extremes

The month featured a large range of temperatures, with the mercury dipping as low as 31 and as high as 88, but the rain was never particularly heavy:

No records were set in Washington or Baltimore, but Dulles reported two:

  • It tied a record high of 88 on April 28, matching 1990.
  • It tied a record warm minimum temperature, with a low of just 65 degrees on April 29, matching 2017.

Year to date

This calendar year is running slightly cooler and drier than last year, but is right about in the middle of the pack compared with other years over the past decade:

Overall, the first four months of 2021 are tracking slightly warmer and wetter than average.

How’d we do?

On March 31, we issued our April outlook, which called for somewhat warmer than normal temperatures and near normal rainfall.

We posted the following:

We favor April to average from 57 to 60 degrees, which compares to a 30-year normal of 56.8. It’s also a good deal warmer than the relatively cool 55.3 of last year. For rainfall, we lean toward the normal to slightly dry side. The current expectation of about 2.5 to 3 inches compares to the 30-year normal of 3.06 inches.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/03/31/april-weather-outlook-washington-dc/

The April 2021 average temperature of 58.2 degrees fell inside our predicted range, but the 2.2 inches of rain that fell was 0.3 inches drier than expected. Overall, we give ourselves a grade of B given the correct temperature and small miss on rainfall.