March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers and June bugs.
We’ve all heard this bit of weather lore before, most likely it’s shortened version:
April showers bring May flowers.
But what is it about April that gives it a reputation for wet, showery weather?
If there’s one season that would seemingly win the title of “rainiest,” it’s spring. In Northern Hemisphere spring, there are a number of goings-on in the atmosphere that increases our chance of rain. The jet stream—a ribbon of high-speed winds flowing miles overhead—migrates from its winter position over Mexico to its summer home over the southern border of Canada. This steers storm systems across the United States. The season’s more intense sunlight also contributes to storminess. The more heat there is in the atmosphere, the more opportunity there is for convection to spark rain and thunderstorms.
However, you might be surprised to learn that, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, June—not April—is the wettest month in the United States. (Based on the long-term average (1901-2000), June typically sees 3.15 inches of precipitation, whereas April ranks as 5th wettest at 2.52 inches.) However, since April is the first full month of astronomical spring (a season most of us associate with trees and flowers) and is also the rainiest month up to that point, the “April showers” reputation likely stuck.
Do April Showers Really Bring May Flowers?
It’s true: rains in April, the month that kicks off the growing season, provide spring-flowering plants with the nutrients needed to thrive in the months ahead.
And while scientists have proven that spring’s warming temperatures are also a key ingredient, recent studies of fruit trees, including flowering peaches and apricots, have shown that blossoms aren’t as fussy about temperature as are leaf buds. So, when it comes to flowering alone, it seems this centuries-old saying gets it right!
Wondering what the remainder of spring will be like in your neck of the woods? Check our long-range forecast here!
Tiffany Means is a freelance writer and a degreed meteorologist. She specializes in weather forecasting and enjoys making the subject of weather (and the science behind it) more relatable. She currently resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.