Archive: April, 2011
It's probably going to take at least a week to figure out precisely how many tornadoes spun through the Southeast in this week's historic outbreak and how strong they were.
But the first reports offer a frightening window into the power of those incredibly destructive storms.
National Weather Service investigators have documented that one that raked through Hackleburg, Ala., packed winds of at least 180 m.p.h., traveled 25.2 miles and cut a path 3/4 of a mile wide.
The horrific tornado outbreak in the Southeast already is the third-deadliest on record, and by the the time the total death toll is computed, may become the deadliest in the modern era
The destruction has been unimaginable, with the death toll climbing toward 230, as has the general level of tornadic activity this month.
So far, more than 600 tornados have been reported nationwide, according to Russ Schenider, chief of the government's Storm Prediction Center, and it's almost an understatement to say that's an April record.
We mentioned in an article in the Monday Inquirer that in raw, unadjusted dollars, about $545 million worth of sand has been pumped on New Jersey beaches, counting all federal, state and local money.
That's according to Andrew Coburn of Western Carolina University, where the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines appears to be about the only place keeping track these days.
Since the beach-fill operations began way back in 1936 and involved about 120 projects, adjusting the total for inflation presented quite a challenge.
The region is about to pass a significant anniversary in its snow climatology.
Officially, 0.1 inches of snow was measured at Philadelphia International Airport on April 27, 1967, and no measurable snow ever has fallen after that date in Philadelphia in the period of record.
So we are going to go out on a limb and predict that no more snow will visit before all those fresh and delicate leaves now opening before our eyes once again age and decay.
By any measure this has been a violent month for atmopsheric behavior across the country, and so far 559 tornado sightings have been reported, according to the government's Storm Predicition Center.
As Accu-Weather Inc. reports this morning, coming into this season the standing record for tornados in April was 274.
That 559 total for this year is prelminary, and odds are the numbers will change when all the t's are crossed, however it's unlikely that 285 of those would be erased.
Yet again the rivers and streams have taken on that chocolate look among the whitecaps after another deluge.
The weekend rains swelled the 2011 rainfall total at Philadelphia International Airport to over 15 inches, or about 25 percent above normal, and the forecast the rest of the weeks is pockmarked with showers.
So why even mention drought?
While last month was the 13th warmest March in the period of record dating to 1880, it was the coolest one in 11 years.
That had a lot to do with the widespread cooling of the tropical Pacific, known as La Nina, said Jessica Blunden at the National Climate Data Center.
She noted that the 2000 cooler readings also were related to La Nina.
Ordinarily we wouldn't post a comment about a sunny day in April, but this one is noteworthy in that it is about to break an impressive streak.
This will be the first officially "clear" day of the month, and the first since March 29. It also happens to be splendidly warm and brimming with incipient spring color.
Of course, this degree of pleasantness is not going to last, but you still have some time. Sunset isn't until 7:38 p.m., with "civil twilight" lasting until 8:06.
We have come to expect a certain degree of atmospheric cruelty in April, but this one is off to an exceptionally gloomy start.
Right now the sky is so low and brooding that it looks as though the government just declared an end to daylight savings time.
So far, not a single clear day has occurred this month, and that streak looks safe through tomorrow. The last time we waited this long for clear April day was in 2007.
This isn't what we envision on a Friday afternoon in April -- brooding skies, rain, temperatures in the 40s and no real sun in the forecast until Tuesday.
Despite the coolest end to March in a decade, and the fifth cloud-covered day of the young month, nature evidently is obeying the light clues.
From the Main Line, esteemed colleague Bonnie L. Cook passes along photographic proof that it is really April.