April Brings Mild Temperatures, Bouts of Severe Weather & even Tornadoes

May 16, 2023 // Article by: Steven Weinstein

The month of April brought quite a few temperature swings, though periods of extreme warmth caused temperatures to finish above average across  the Northeast. The main weather story throughout the month involved bouts of severe weather, especially to begin the month which produced damaging winds, large hail, and destructive tornadoes across the Mid-Atlantic. Additionally, although there were plenty of prolonged dry stretches, a coastal system to close out the month brought copious amounts of rain across much of the region and compensated for the lack of rainfall throughout April. This ultimately led to many Northeast sites finishing just above to well above average precipitation wise.

April started off active as a robust system and associated cold front trekked across the Northeast, which caused a line of very strong storms to explode across Eastern PA and Northeastern MD during the evening of the 1st. This line ultimately progressed across Southern NJ and DE, leaving a trail of damage in its wake. Scattered wind damage and quarter to ping pong ball sized hail occurred across the Mid-Atlantic as a result of this event. However, most notable was the localized tornado outbreak that it produced across the region. By the end of this outbreak, 7 tornadoes had touched down in NJ alone, 3 of which were given a violent EF-2 rating with estimated winds of 111 - 135 mph. Even stronger, was an EF-3 tornado that touched down from a lone supercell in Sussex County, DE that carved a 14 mile path of destruction and unfortunately led to 1 fatality. Other EF-1 rated tornadoes occurred in Bucks County, PA and Cecil County, MD. All these tornadoes snapped trees, power lines, damaged structures and led to property damage. Overall, this was an extremely rare event, especially in NJ where it tied the record for most tornadoes occurring in a single day which was previously set on November 16th, 1989. 

Confirmed tornadoes from the April 1st, 2023 severe weather outbreak in the Mid-Atlantic. Source: NWS Mt Holly Twitter

Conditions then quieted down behind this system with a largely quiet and mild stretch of weather dominating, before another bout of severe weather occurred on the 6th across portions of the Mid-Atlantic. This event produced scattered wind damage and hail reports across VA and MD, with up to golf ball sized hail notable across Southeastern MD. The following day then marked the beginning of a prolonged stretch of warm and tranquil weather across the Northeast as high pressure firmly situated itself overhead. Indeed, it was unseasonably warm with temperatures that frequently ran 10 - 25+ degrees above normal through the second week of the month. As a result, many daily record highs in the 80s and 90s were set across various Northeast climate sites on the 13th or 14th. Boston, MA hit a high of 88 degrees on the 13th and Worcester, MA topped out at 90 degrees on the 14th, while Hartford, CT hit a staggering 96 degrees on the 14th. The latter two climate stations, absolutely crushed their old daily records by 10 - 15 degrees! An active weather pattern then finally returned on the 15th as an upper level disturbance moved across the Mid-Altlantic which brought numerous slow-moving thunderstorms, torrential downpours, and some flash flooding to parts of Eastern PA, NJ, and MD. These storms dumped localized rainfall amounts of 3 - 5" across these areas, which also led to some water rescues.

Tweet from NWS Boston showing daily record high temperatures broken on April 14th, 2023.

The second half of the month featured more seasonable to below average temperatures, though milder stretches were still mixed in. A system on the 22nd then led to the next instance of severe weather as a line of storms moved across the Northeast during the afternoon and evening. This led to many damaging wind reports across MD and Eastern PA, with a few sporadic reports elsewhere. Two brief tornadoes also touched down, an EF-1 in Berks County, PA, and an EF-0 in Montgomery County, MD. Furthermore, NYC and parts of New England got a good soaking out of this event where 1.5 - 3"+ of rainfall fell. Then, after a few late season snow showers the morning of the 26th, which actually produced some minor scattered coatings of snow across Northeastern PA, an active stretch of wet weather closed out the last few days of April as a series of disturbances traversed the Mid-Atlantic and New England on the 28th - 30th. A widespread 2 - 4" of rain fell during this time, though locally 5 - 8" of rainfall occurred along the Jersey Shore in addition to instances of coastal flooding. Last, was another violent, EF-3 rated tornado with estimated winds of 136 mph+ that was spawned out of this system and moved across the Virginia Beach area during the evening of the 30th. This tornado damaged up to 100 homes and businesses within the local area.

Overall, high and low temperatures ran 3 - 5 degrees above normal across the Northeast despite the fluctuations in temperatures throughout the month. Precipitation wise, before the end of the month system, most areas were in a deficit with areas of moderate drought becoming problematic across the Mid-Atlantic. Ultimately, this system helped to alleviate the drought conditions and most areas across the Northeast finished near to around 1" above average. However, there were exceptions to this as Long Island and Southeastern MA actually ran below their normal rainfall amounts for the month. Conversely, owing especially to the mid and end of April systems, parts of Southern NJ and DE saw precipitation amounts finish a staggering 3 - 6" above normal!