April showers bring May flowers. This poem from the 19th century rings so well in the North Sound and Western Washington. In April, cool air flows inland from the Gulf of Alaska. Combined with longer days and warmer sunshine, it creates conditions to produce our April showers.
The April showers took a hiatus for a dozen consecutive days earlier this month. We had seven straight days of 70 degrees or better at one point, the first time that has ever happened in recorded history. But now the showers are back along with cooler more seasonable temperatures. The renewed precipitation has irrigated our thirsty yards and is of great relief to pollen allergy sufferers, washing the pollen out of the air.
Spring offers another unique weather feature – the Puget Sound Convergence Zone. The Convergence Zone can occur anytime of the year, but spring time is when it occurs most often. If it is cold enough, it can snow. Even thunderstorms can develop during this peak time. One key by-product of thunderstorms is tornadoes and the spring season is prime time for North Sound tornadoes.
In Snohomish County since 1969, there have been seven tornados and two were F2 tornados with wind speeds between 110 and 135 mph. Tornados are born from thunderstorms. A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air touching the ground. A funnel cloud does not touch the ground. A waterspout is a tornado over water like Puget Sound.
Washington State averages around two tornadoes per year. Some years have none. In 1997 though, a record 14 tornadoes occurred. Tornadoes can occur any time of the year, but the seasonal transition of spring and fall is when most tornadoes occur with May having the greatest number of tornadoes in the state.
Washington has suffered three F3 tornadoes since 1950, two occurring on the same day – April 5th, 1972. Vancouver was hit striking a school, grocery store and bowling alley, killing six and injuring over 200. Later that same day, another F3 tornado touched down outside of Davenport west of Spokane. Washington led the nation in tornado deaths that year.
If a thunderstrom approaches, immediatly head indoors. The phrase to remember is – When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors. For tornado safety, go to an interior room without windows or a basement if available.
North Sound spring weather usually offers a wide variety of conditions, from the recent period of warm sunshine, to showers, hail, thunderstorms, and even tornadoes. Remember, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared.
Visit and bookmark the everettpost.com weather page that offers site specific North Sound community forecasts including hourly forecasts for those who spend time in the garden or other outdoor activities. The Doppler weather radar display and radar loop will also help you dodge those pesky April showers too!