Wikipedia: In the United Kingdom and Ireland, an April shower is rain during the month of April. One of the major causes of the often heavy downpours is the position of the jet stream. In early spring, the jet stream starts to move northwards, allowing large depressions to bring strong winds and rain in from the Atlantic. In one day the weather can change from springtime sunshine to winter sleet and snow. The track of these depressions can often be across Ireland and Scotland bringing bands of rain followed by heavy showers (often of hail or snow) and strong blustery winds. The proverb “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”, first recorded in 1886, or the shorter, trochaic version “April showers bring May flowers” (originally “Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers”, part of a poem recorded in 1610) are common expressions in English speaking countries. The phrase is referenced in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: “Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”
Happens here in the south central United States too – mainly Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas – what I call the I-35 corridor states.
Each year it happens sooner, most noticeable by looking back at the past 8 years living here in Norman Oklahoma. The Dogwood Trees bloom the white flowers last week of February instead of first week of April. This convinces me climate change or global warming is really happening. The warming difference here has been about one week sooner each year. However, some weather patterns remain nearly the same or are more spread out with a longer spring after a shorter winter, not yet true summer. Likewise for a longer fall (autumn) after a longer summer.
The usual May floods from heavy rain storms began happening at end of March this year. The city of Norman is installing new flood drainage control systems. The one nearest my home will not be done until November or December this year. It runs from Berry and Lindsey west to Lindsey and 24th, south to the Highway 9 and Interstate 35 intersection triangle, then on over to the river. Lindsey just south of the apartments complex where I live has been torn up to install the massive square drainage pipe underground. The street is being widened, repaved, and wider sidewalks added. I is expected to be the best street in Norman when completed – or rather the west part of Lindsey west of Berry Road. Also a new bridge over I-35 has been built with a new ramps. Businesses along West Lindsey have been disrupted with difficult access, and those with no access have been forced to close.
Meantime, recently, I was up all night keeping an eye on the rising flood water during a series of storms. Had it become a foot deeper then it would have flooded ground floor apartments – and then I’d have had neighbors escaping to my second level apartment. While I was away from Norman from May to September 2015, I heard it got that bad in some areas of Norman. I previously lived in apartments on the east side near the OU duck pond and Bishop’s Creek. The ground floor apartments there had to be sand-bagged to try to keep flood water from getting in. The county offered free sand bags, but too few landlords and others accepted the advice to use them.
The problem is when there is a series of storms like train cars moving on a train track, so the same location gets about an inch of rain from each storm – usually headed NNE. Sometimes there are several track of storms, with the tracks very slowing drifting east while the storms on the track head NNE.
More rain this afternoon. This time of year it is more rain than severe storms. Even so, the time of severe storms is spreading out. In the past, June has been the worst. It has been reported “Tornado Alley” has shifted to east of Oklahoma instead of the heart of it centered on Norman and Oklahoma City. Even so, the last major tornado doing damage I experienced in Norman was Friday the 13th of April 2012. It came down near Highway 9 and I-35, then headed from SW Norman to downtown to NE Norman and then turned toward Lake Thunderbird. That morning I received an operation on my stomach for bleeding ulcers at Norman Regional Hospital in NE Norman. The tornado hit at 3:14pm. We had about 10-15 minutes warning. Patients were moved to hallways and windowless rooms. A few witnesses outside saw the tornado pick up a single level building and dump it in the middle of Porter street, just a couple of blocks south of the hospital. As it reached the grounds of the hospital it left the ground, hopped over the hospital buildings, and then returned to the ground on the other side of the block. Main power knocked out, the emergency generators came on. No damage to the hospital.
One thing about heavy rains during spring has remained consistent as far back as I can remember – and was true before I was born in March 1956. It almost always rains during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, especially on Memorial Day Monday. People visiting cemeteries, standing under big black umbrellas in heavy rain.
Reported by Jim Lantern
Sunday afternoon – 2 April 2017
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