By Chris Gilberti | April 25, 2022
Photo Credit: Chris Gilberti
Your eyes were not deceiving you last week; yes it was snowing on Apr. 19. Coming off the heels of a below average winter in terms of snowfall, and temperatures that hit 80 degrees just four days prior, snow was the last thing on anybody’s mind. Nonetheless, in an upstate New York spring, anything goes, and it is possible to receive snow. This did leave many wondering what season it is, and how did this happen?
(National Weather Service map showing snowfall accumulations in inches across the Capital Region after the snowstorm on April 19, 2022. Credit: NOAA)
This spring has been nothing short of a rollercoaster, with seemingly different seasons being ushered in every day. Even with the cherry blossoms and flowers blooming, winter made itself known that it was not quite over. Over two inches of wet, slushy snow fell in Albany, and up to 18 inches fell across higher elevations of the Adirondacks and Catskills. Creating a scene expected out of January or February, many were unprepared for this storm. Most weather forecasters found it difficult to believe model predictions that were giving some over a foot of snow at this time of the year. Across the Capital Region, thousands lost power as inches of that heavy, wet snow weighed down on trees and power lines.
Many wonder just how unusual it is for Albany to see this kind of snowfall in mid to late April. Albany typically sees its final snowfall of the season in early April, even averaging about 1.6 inches for the month every year. This storm certainly arrived later than the final snowfall in the city normally would, and dropped more than the expected snowfall for the entire month of April in just one night. This makes it indeed an unusual occurrence, especially given that Albany does usually see at least some snow in April.
This storm was able to occur as a combination of features came into the right alignment to allow for a late-season winter storm. While many are ready for warmer temperatures to arrive and settle in, the Northeast can see vast temperature swings in the spring – as was experienced during this storm. Cold arctic air masses from Canada battle with much warmer air masses from the south. This means that when fronts and storms pass by, there can be a large difference depending on which side you are on. On Thursday Apr. 14, Albany was in a very warm air mass that allowed temperatures to soar into the 80’s, but by Apr. 19, a deep trough filtered in air from the arctic that sent temperatures plummeting. This made it just cold enough to allow snow to fall.
The question remains: is winter finally over? If we have learned anything from the last few weeks, it is that anything is possible. With that in mind, it would be very hard to believe that there will be any more unprecedented snowfall events as we head into May and the end of the spring semester. Unfortunately for summer lovers, model guidance has been suggesting that most of the Northeast will see below average temperatures continue through the next few weeks. The end of April and May will see temperatures closer to 60 degrees, which beats the snow and thirty degree weather we experienced last week.