April Global Temperatures: Hot Or Cold? Any Surprises?

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April 2014 departure from temperature average. Graphic courtesy of NOAA

April 2014 departure from temperature average. Graphic courtesy of NOAA

NOAA has released its records for land and sea surface temperatures worldwide for April, 2014.

Surprise! 2014 tied 2010 for the warmest average land and sea surface temperature on record.

All right, that’s not much of a surprise, though NASA, using slightly different accounting methods, had previously announced that April was only the second warmest on record.

Regardless of whether April, 2014 was #1 or #2, the distribution of temperatures was quite a surprise, both on land and sea.

Land Temperatures, April, 2014

The average land temperature in April was 48.93 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.43 degrees above the 20th century average, and third highest on record.

Residents of the north-central United States and Canada know it was a very cold winter and spring. Because of the contribution of this area to the totals, North America actually experienced an average April, temperature-wise.

The land temperature record for April was highlighted by an amazingly warm month in Siberia. Temperatures in Irkutsk, Russia rose to more than 20 degrees above normal on half of the days; This warmth more than compensated for the cold in the eastern United States and Canada.

Elsewhere, a swath of below normal temperatures was centered in Kazakhstan, sandwiched between the Siberian heat wave and generally warmer than normal temperatures in all of Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. Australia, South America, Central America, and the southern parts of North America were also above normal.

Ocean Temperatures, April, 2014

The oceans averaged 61.98 degrees Fahrenheit in April, 0.99 degrees above normal, and also third highest on record. The warmest ocean water compared to normal was in the Gulf of Alaska. This anomaly, which has persisted since fall, was at least partly responsible for the weather pattern over the United States this winter, as a high pressure omega block built over the warm water and forced cold air southward over the continental US.

The expected El Niño, which NOAA now estimates has an 80% chance to form by fall, is not yet in evidence in April, though equatorial Pacific waters have warmed from last year’s La Niña to be near the normals.

The First Four Months of 2014

January through April of 2014 was the sixth warmest for that period for land and sea temperatures. The very cold winter in Canada and the US had a significant impact, and the Siberian warmth was not as extreme earlier in the winter. La Niña, though fading through the period, had some effect on ocean temperatures.

April, 2014 precipitation on land as percent of normal. Graphic courtesy of NOAA

April, 2014 precipitation on land as percent of normal. Graphic courtesy of NOAA

Precipitation in April, 2014

Precipitation on a monthly basis is affected by unusual events such as training thunderstorms or tropical systems. April, 2014 shows above-normal precipitation in the eastern United States, primarily due to the effect of severe weather outbreak Aardvark near the end of the month.

The above-normal rain in the  area of the former Yugoslavia set the stage for disastrous flooding in May in Serbia and Bosnia, when more rain fell on saturated ground. The drought in the southwestern United States continued.

With no let-up in the dry conditions in sight, much of the western United States is in critical drought condition. El Niño normally produces rain in the southwest part of the country; the expected El Niño couldn’t come soon enough for the parched states.

Southern Asia continued to experience dry weather which is threatening the tea production in Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Tea lovers prepare to pay higher prices.

Is It Global Warming?

The planet has obviously warmed significantly in the last hundred years, and there isn’t any other reasonable scientific explanation than that the warming is a result of increasing human-produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. More worrisome is the number and extent of extreme events. The off-the-charts anomalies in Siberian air and Gulf of Alaska water temperatures may be a warning of things to come.

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