Weather in the Foothills

“The peace and beauty of a spring day had descended upon the earth like a benediction.”

~ Kate Chopin, American author

As the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. Written long ago, it doesn’t usually pertain to us. Yesterday, while finishing up writing “Weather,” I glanced outside during one of the many downpours we’ve experienced in the past few days. This year May flowers should flourish in the Crescenta Valley!

Historians believe this phrase may date back to a 1610 poem, which contained the lines “Sweet April showers, do spring May flowers.” A longer phrase, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” has also been traced back to 1886.

The reference to April showers likely originated in the United Kingdom or Ireland where the month of April tends to be especially rainy and gloomy because of the position of the jet stream. But do April showers really bring May flowers? Sometimes … But rather than being rooted in botany, the words could have been an attempt to offer hope of forthcoming sunny days.

The exact effect of rainfall likely depends upon what type of flower. Perennials die off in the fall and burst forth each subsequent spring. Some perennials, especially in warmer areas, might come forth in March or April. The previous month’s rainfall will usually have little impact on when these flowers spring back to life. Since their bulbs have been in the ground all along, their growth and health depends upon the overall trend of rainfall over the course of many months.

Annuals, the flowers you have to replant each year, are different than perennials in that they can’t be planted each year until after the threat of frost passes. Once planted, what matters is the amount of rainfall in the months after they’re planted – not the month before. They need enough rain in the months after they’re planted to sustain their growth and health.

So, what really brings forth May flowers? Scientists note there’s one factor that’s much more important than rainfall in determining when a particular flower will bloom: temperature. When the average temperature begins to reach spring-like weather, flowers will begin to bloom, regardless of exactly how much rain they received in April or the month before they begin to bloom. So much for old sayings!

Come Saturday, close up those umbrellas! Get out your baskets and bonnets; mild temperatures and blue skies return for Easter Sunday.

Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for
the National Weather Service Reach her at