During April, West Michigan is in the heart of the spring season. The typical high temperature warms from 52° on the 1st to 64° on the 30th. Overnight low temperatures take a 10° rise going from 32° to 43°.
We typically see more rain than snow in April. Snow can fall right until the final days of the month, but any accumulating snow melts rapidly under the April sunshine.
Actual and potential sunshine continue to increase during the month. We gain an hour and twenty minutes of daylight and even the percent of possible sunshine increases. In April we typically see 52% of possible sunshine.
After a cool March, parts of the state may remain chilly for April. While March was mainly dry, parts of Lower Michigan may experience a damp April.
There are many interesting weather events for April, snowstorms don’t get the top billing but severe thunderstorms and tornadoes do. I’ll just highlight a few of them from the National Weather Service Archives. To see the complete list, ‘Subscribe’ to the Grand Rapids Weather examiner for a daily email of historical events.
2010 – West Michigan saw a Record warm spell for the first few says of the month.
4/3/1956 – Eighteen people are killed and over 300 injured as four powerful tornadoes strike western Lower Michigan. Hudsonville and the northwest suburbs of Grand Rapids are the hardest hit areas with 17 fatalities as homes and businesses were completely swept away by an F5 tornado.
4/4/2003 – A devastating ice storm strikes central Lower Michigan. Heavy rain from thunderstorms falls into a layer of cold air near the ground and freezes on contact, creating sheaths of ice up to 3 inches thick that brings down thousands of tree limbs. It was estimated that 450,000 homes and businesses lost power during the storm and that nearly 50,000 people were without power for a week as persistent cold temperatures keep the heavy ice on the trees for 4 days after the storm. Crews came from four different states to help local utility companies restore power.
4/8/1947 – Three to five inches of rain and warmer temperatures combine with melting snowpack and partially frozen ground to cause some disastrous flooding along the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers. Millions of dollars of damage occur as large sections of Grand Rapids, including the Comstock Park area, are under several feet of water.
4/11/1965 – The second worst tornado outbreak in United States history struck from Iowa to Ohio, killing 256 people. In Michigan, the worst damage is near the Indiana state line as two violent tornadoes moved on parallel tracks about a half hour apart, killing 44 people and injuring hundreds. A tornado struck northwest of Grand Rapids, killing five people in Comstock Park. One person was killed by a tornado that moved from near Dewitt in Clinton County to Bennington in Shiawassee County.
4/13/1950 – High temperatures struggle to reach the mid and upper 20s across Lower Michigan after morning lows in the teens. At Lansing the high temperature is only 24 degrees after a morning low of 17.
4/13/1952 – The 0.7 inches of snow that falls at Grand Rapids is the last measurable snow of a record-breaking winter. It brings the seasonal total to 144.1 inches, roughly twice the amount of a normal winter’s snowfall.
4/20/1966 – A tornado killed livestock and damaged a barn and garage in Morley in Mecosta County. Another tornado hit Peach Ridge in Kent County, damaging a steel tower.
4/24/1980 – Only two days after setting record highs in the 80s, a record snowfall blankets Lower Michigan. Grand Rapids sets a record for the date with 2.4 inches of snow, after hitting 86 degrees on the 22nd.
4/29/1909 – Heavy rain mixed with snow sets records across Lower Michigan. The daily total liquid equivalent precipitation is 2.53 inches at Grand Rapids, and this includes a daily record of 2.2 inches of snow. The 1.75 inches at Lansing includes four inches of snow. Temperatures remain in the 30s all day.