NOAA 99-41
Contact: Pat Viets


The year-to-date, January-April, was the seventh warmest January-April period in the contiguous United States since records began in 1895, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported today. About 40 percent of the country averaged much warmer than normal, while near zero percent of the country averaged much cooler than normal.

Preliminary precipitation data indicate that the year-to-date was the 47th wettest January-April on record for the contiguous United States. About 2 percent of the country was much wetter than normal for this period, while about 4 percent of the country was much drier than normal. This contrasts with the wettest January-April on record, which occurred just last year during the strong El Niño episode.

For the year-to-date, January-April, 358 tornadoes have been documented. This ranks as the third most active year-to-date, behind the count of 373 recorded just last year. The most tornadoes observed during this same four-month period was 405 in 1991, while the fewest was 83 in 1987.

During April 1999, 152 tornadoes were documented across the contiguous United States. The 47-year average for April is 111. The most tornadoes observed in the April record was 269 during the record outbreak month of April 1974, while the fewest was 20 in April 1987.

Long-term drought coverage (as measured by the Palmer Drought Index) was virtually unchanged for the third consecutive month, with April 1999 having about 4 percent of the country in severe to extreme drought. The area of the country experiencing severe to extreme wetness increased slightly to about 13 percent. The core dry areas included portions of the Southwest, Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Gulf Coast, and New England. The core wet areas included portions of the northern and central Great Plains, the central California coast, southeastern and southwestern Oregon, and portions of the central and southern Rockies.

Information on the year-to-date climate and on the climate of April can be found on the World Wide Web at: