The spring months in St. Louis have some interesting attributes, including more precipitation than winter months and, with different air masses affecting the region, winds can get extreme. Some of the statistics were average, whereas others made the record books.
April, the first full month of spring in St. Louis, was pretty close to climatology for high temperatures. 15 days were above average for high temperatures at St. Louis Lambert International airport, with 13 below average. Two days were on par with climatology.
Our warmest day of the month was April 23, where the mercury hit 87 degrees. The coldest morning was April 1, when we began the day at 32 degrees. We had several days with temperatures in the 30s to start the day, which prompted scattered frost advisories.
Temperatures overall weren’t too far off from seasonal averages, precipitation ended up being lower than normal.
Our average monthly precipitation increases during the spring. April should accumulate close to 5 inches, yet this year, we only recorded about 3.5 inches, making our monthly deficit close to 1.5 inches.
May is another spring month where we should average around 5 inches of precipitation.
Another interesting aspect of April 2022 was the wind factor. It seemed like every day this month was noticeably breezy. The branches in my yard like to remind me.
Keep in mind, wind is the movement of air, and in meteorology, our day-to-day concern is the horizontal wind. The horizontal wind tells us the direction where the air is moving from.
A report of southwest winds would mean the winds are coming from the southwest at a certain speed.
The American Meteorological Society defines wind as “air in motion relative to the Earth’s surface.” Air flows from high to low pressure and it’s the gradient between the two that generates the wind’s speed.
Using data compiled from Iowa State, the month of April 2022 recorded 82 hours of wind speeds 20 mph or higher with the windiest time of day in the afternoon, between noon and 4 p.m. This makes it the first time since 2011 that wind recordings for the month of April topped 80 hours.
In fact, 18 days during the month had winds gusting over 30 mph. This ties April 2019 and April 2013 to having the most recorded 30 mph gusts during the month of April.
What’s most interesting is that while it remained quite breezy, the wind speeds did not reach wind advisory criteria, which is issued when expecting wind gusts over 45 mph.
A 2021 study of the windiest states in the country had Missouri ranked 18. Data analysis website Stacker used The Technical University of Denmark’s Global Wind Atlas 3.0 application to measure wind speeds at 328 feet above sea level for the top 10% windiest areas of each state.
Their findings are in miles per hour below. The big winners may surprise you, as they are mainly in the West and the Great Plains. This makes sense with more wide-open spaces there’s less friction, so fewer chances to slow down the wind speed. The Southeast states are calmer regarding wind.
1. Alaska (21.9 mph)
2. Wyoming (21.5 mph)
3. Michigan (20.9 mph)
4. Montana (20.5 mph)
5. Nebraska (20.5 mph)
6. South Dakota (20.3 mph)
7. Oklahoma (20.2 mph)
8. Wisconsin (20.2 mph)
9. Colorado (20 mph)
10. Hawaii (19.9 mph)
Although Missouri didn’t crack the top ten for 2021, the first four months have definitely seen some windy days. We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out for 2022.
And in case you are wondering, the nickname “the windy city” may have nothing to do with the horizontal movement of air and, as for Illinois’ ranking, "The Land of Lincoln" came in at #22 for the windiest states of 2021.
The Climate Prediction Center's outlook for May has temperatures near average readings with slightly wetter than average for precipitation.