A community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

Crozet Weather Almanac: April 2017

Is May the Nicest Month of the Year?

By Heidi Sonen and Roscoe Shaw

Many people consider May to be the finest month of the year in central Virginia.  The days are long and the temperatures are usually pleasant, generally hovering between 50 and 80.  The countryside is so green that Heidi and I call Crozet “The Emerald City”.  I have no record of snow ever falling at valley level during the month, although some snow might fall this week in the very high mountains of West Virginia.

But the weather can get crazy at any time and sometimes it does in May.  The temperature hit 100 on May 27, 1941 and that was the fourth time that month that we topped 97.  Frost is possible but that is very rare. Low lying rural areas can be vulnerable on clear, calm nights, but the coldest we have ever measured was 29 in May 2002.   Overall, a freeze happens just once every 700 May days.

May rainfall averages an ample 4.21”, but sometimes we can get that much in one day.  In 1924, almost five inches fell in a single day.  The worst weather in May is usually when the winds turn east and a cool drizzle hangs around for a couple of days.

Other parts of the country fear May because of the risk of tornadoes, but we are fortunate in this respect.  Tennessee is one of the most dangerous places for tornadoes in May, but the rough terrain of the Appalachian Mountains breaks up most rotational storms.  Tornadoes are almost non-existent in western Virginia.  Around here, a rare tornado will touch down but they are much more common around the Tidewater area and closer to the DC Metro area.  The tornado map above shows the protective hole around us.

Perhaps the worst part of May is the insane rate that the grass grows.  April is too cold and June is a bit too warm, but May is Goldilocks…just right.

April Recap

April was much warmer than normal again.  The average of 62.5 was almost 5 degrees above the long-term average.  The past 12 months have been almost the warmest ever here, surpassing over 99% of rolling yearly averages. That might be alarming if it were a clear trend but the opposite happened back in 2014 when we were historically cool. Globally, temperatures cooled in April.  The eastern USA was warm, but most of the West was cold and so was almost all of Canada.

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