The Story Behind April Showers
April 12, 2018
We’ve all grown up with proverbial sayings about April showers. When March is over we all know we need to brace ourselves, umbrellas at the ready. It’s something we tend to take for granted, but how do 'April showers' actually work? How can it be that in one particular month of the year enough rainfall over successive generations has led to sayings and folk psychology that makes April showers a thing? Yes, we wondered that too. So we did a bit of research.
Looking at the science, April spans a crucial time between the winter and the summer. The cold and wintry nights are drawing to a close and we tend to find strong winds moving towards the north. The chill of January and February is on its way out, and wide and beautiful skies are combining with low pressure. In April, we’re starting to feel the benefit of warmer conditions and longer days of sunlight. However, out-out at sea it’s a different story. The oceans are at their coldest in April. Hot air heats the cold water, and so we get those seasonal clouds forming, which create the downpours that get us reaching for our umbrellas.
That's the theory. What’s the evidence though? Well, it’s surprising. The Met Office says that usually, April is not one of the wetter months of the year, and in fact, records show it’s statistically on the dry side. That sounds like a reason to suggest that the theories of April showers are nonsense, doesn’t it?
Well, perhaps not. There’s one thing left to clear up here when we’re talking about April showers. Let’s look at the difference between showers and rain. Showers tend to be passing, whereas rain is more seriously wet. Rain sets in for a few days, and affects wide areas. Showers are one thing, but rain means business. When it rains there are days when you’ll want to bring your golfing umbrella to the shops to be absolutely sure of staying dry. Showers, on the other hand, usually fall in a smaller area, and only for an hour or two at most.
So there you have it. To tweak the well-known song ever so slightly: “Though April showers may come your way…. at least you can be grateful it’s not heavy rainfall!" Either way, umbrellas are going to be a good friend to you in those spring months, and we’d advise you don’t leave home without one!