Windy, Cloudy, Cold, Wet (and Snowy) April

solar radiation graph
Graph of April solar energy measured by a solar radiometer at the University of Minnesota climate observatory in St. Paul, 1963-2022.

Source: State Climatology Office with assistance from D. Ruschy and University of Minnesota.


"It was a lousy month," or so said nearly every Minnesotan who endured April 2022--a month that saw frequent precipitation, chilling winds, a stubborn snow pack in the northeast, a return to flooded streams in the northwest, and a seemingly constant overcast.*

A highly active weather pattern that began during mid-March provided the state with a steady diet of precipitating weather systems during April, each lasting 1-3 days, with only 1-2 days in between. This pattern meant that half or more of the month's days had measurable precipitation, including 19 days at Duluth and 18 at International Falls. International Falls demolished its April precipitation record, with 7.61 inches; the previous record had been 4.53 inches, set in 1925, and no April in the past 75 years at International Falls had even half as much precipitation as this one. With 11.26 inches of precipitation through April, the first four months of 2022 at International Falls are now nearly 50% wetter than the first four months of any other year on record. Areas throughout the northern quarter of Minnesota were 100-200% above the normal for April precipitation, and most of the state was above normal, though generally by 25-50%. Southwestern and far-western Minnesota remained at or below normal for the month. 

April 2022 was also a very snowy month in northern Minnesota. The Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center led the pack with 26.3 inches, while 23+ inches was measured in Ottertail, Ely, Thorhult, and Orr.  Duluth recorded 19.2 inches, International Falls recorded 17.7 inches, and Norris Camp, in Lake of the Woods County, recorded 17 inches of snow.

The stormy pattern also meant excessive cloudiness, with clouds preceding, and lingering well past, the precipitation itself. The University of Minnesota climate observatory in St. Paul recorded less sunlight than any other April in the 60 years of records back to 1963. Duluth's airport reported more overcast conditions during the afternoon than any other April back to 1970. It was a notably cloudy month across the entire state.

All of these passing weather systems also led to persistently strong winds. The Twin Cities International Airport reported 24 days with at least one hourly 30 mph wind gust, which was seven days greater than the next gustiest April on record since reliable records began in 1973. Stations across the state reported numerous days with 50 mph or greater maximum wind gusts; the Twin Cities recorded four such days, with a maximum gust of 58 mph measured on the 14th. Duluth also measured 58 mph gusts, on two consecutive days!


* Climatologists usually don't "take sides" in judging the character of a month, because there are too many possible conflicts. For example, not everyone agrees about what is too hot, too cool, or too stormy. But April 2022 was almost universally despised by Minnesotans, causing angst or concern among farmers, gardeners, anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and the general public. The State Climatology Office sides with the people of Minnesota: April 2022 was a rotten month.**


** These statements reflect the views of the State Climatology Office only, and in particular, the author of this post, and do not represent the official views of the Department of Natural Resources (although on what grounds could anyone possibly disagree)?


Modified May 3, 2022

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