April 2022 tied with April 2010 as Earth’s fifth-warmest April since global record-keeping began in 1880, 0.85 degree Celsius (1.53°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, NCEI, reported May 13. NASA rated April 2022 as seventh-warmest April on record, 1.10 degrees Celsius (1.98°F) above the 1880-1920 period, its best estimate for when preindustrial temperatures last occurred. The European Copernicus Climate Change Service rated April 2022 as the sixth-warmest April on record, as did the Japan Meteorological Agency  Minor differences in the agencies’ rankings can result from the different ways they treat data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

Land areas had their sixth-warmest April on record in 2022, with global ocean temperatures the eighth-warmest on record, according to NOAA. Asia had its warmest April on record, with the heat especially intense in India and Pakistan. Oceania had its fifth-warmest April on record, and Africa tied for its ninth-warmest. In contrast, the contiguous U.S. experienced temperatures that were slightly cooler than historical Aprils, ranking as the 50th coolest since 1895.

The year-to-date global surface temperature was the fifth-highest on record, and the year 2022 is more than 99% likely to rank among the 10 warmest years on record, and about 28% likely to rank in the top five, NOAA said. There is only a 1.4% chance that 2022 will rank as the warmest year on record, largely because La Niña conditions are now more likely than not to prevail throughout the year (see below).

Figure 1
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for April 2022, tied as the fifth-warmest April for the globe since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-warm April temperatures were observed across parts of central South America, the Oceania area, southwestern Pacific Ocean, and a large area in southern and southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa. No large areas experienced record cold. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

Deadliest weather disaster so far in 2022: flooding in South Africa

The deadliest weather disaster so far in 2022 occurred on April 7-13, when catastrophic flooding hit the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa after a stalled low-pressure system dumped torrential rains. More than 300 mm (12 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours near the coastal city of Durban on April 11-12. The disaster killed at least 435, and caused more than $1.5 billion in damage. Heavy rains are more likely in South Africa when, as currently, a La Niña event is present. An near real-time attribution study by the World Weather Attribution group found that human-caused climate change doubled the likelihood of the event from a 2.5% probability per year (a 1-in-40-year event), to a 5% probability per year (a 1-in-20-year event).

The second deadliest weather disaster so far this year was the flooding in Brazil on February 15, which triggered a landslide that killed 232 people in the Petropolis area.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Temperatures have ranged from 0.7 to 1.0 degree Celsius below average since mid-April. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

La Niña persists

La Niña conditions persisted during April and are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer and into autumn and early winter (58% chance during August-October and 61% chance in November-January). NOAA reported in its April monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The odds of an El Niño event are no more than 5% into early 2023.

Over the past month, sea surface temperatures in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W) were about 0.9 degree Celsius below average. The range for “weak” La Niña conditions is 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius below average; the range for “moderate” La Niña conditions is 1.0-1.5 degrees Celsius below average.

The forecast from NOAA and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society for the peak portion of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-September-October) is for a 58% chance of La Niña, 38% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 4% chance of El Niño. If it were to happen, a third consecutive northern winter with La Niña in 2022-23 would be unusual but not unprecedented: Three-year La Niña sequences occurred in 1973-76 and 1998-2001.

Atlantic hurricane seasons during El Niño events tend to be quiet, because of increased vertical wind shear over the Atlantic. With the current forecast calling for only a small chance of an El Niño, a seventh consecutive active Atlantic hurricane season likely will occur in 2022.

The impact of the current La Niña event may be boosted by an intensely negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO. The PDO is an index of sea surface temperatures across the northeast and tropical Pacific Ocean that reflects some of the circulation aspects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The PDO can swing sharply from month to month, but usually it leans positive (warm) or negative (cool) for a few years at a time. Nearly every month since 2017 has had a negative PDO, and April’s value was the second lowest for any April since 1956. When the PDO is negative, La Niña’s impacts often are more pronounced.

Arctic sea ice: 11th-lowest April extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during April 2022 was the 11th lowest in the 44-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, NSIDC. Some relatively good news there, but sea ice extent was tracking near the lowest 10 percent of historical values, and it is unlikely that the long-term decline in Arctic sea ice has halted.

Antarctic sea ice extent in April was the fifth lowest on record.

Notable global heat and cold marks for April 2022

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps:

– Hottest April temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 49.0°C (120.2°F) at Jacobabad, Pakistan, April 30;
– Coldest April temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -52.5°C (-62.5°F) at Summit, Greenland, April 10;
– Hottest April temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 42.1°C (107.8°F) at Mandora, Australia, April 14;
– Coldest April temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -79.4°C (-110.9°F) at Concordia, Antarctica, April 17;
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.-Apr.) in the Southern Hemisphere: 32.6°C (90.7°F) at Roebourne and Marble Bar, Australia; and
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.-Apr.) in the Northern Hemisphere: 32.7°C (90.9°F) at Kenieba, Mali.

Major weather stations in April: no all-time heat or cold records

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, none set, not just tied, an all-time heat or cold record in April.

Three all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2022

As of the end of April, three nations or territories had set or tied an all-time reliably measured national heat record:

Paraguay:  45.6°C (114.1°F) at Sombrero Hovy, January 1;
Australia:  50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, January 13 (tie); and
Uruguay:  44.0°C (111.2°F) at Florida, January 14 (tie).

Two all-time national/territorial cold records set or tied in 2022

As of the end of April, two nations or territories had set or tied an all-time national cold record:

Montenegro: -33.4°C (-28.1°F) at Kosanica, January 25; and
Myanmar: -6.0°C (-21.2°F) at Hakha, January 29 (tie).

Nineteen additional monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of the end of April

In addition to the three all-time national/territorial records listed above, 19 nations or territories have set monthly all-time heat records in 2022, for a total of 22 monthly all-time records:

– January (11): Mexico, USA, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Montenegro;
– February (2): Papua New Guinea, Pakistan;
– March (3): Myanmar, Pakistan, Mauritius;
– April (3): British Indian Ocean Territories, Hong Kong, Chad

Four additional monthly national/territorial cold records beaten or tied as of the end of April

In addition to the two all-time national/territorial records listed above, four nations or territories have set monthly all-time cold records in 2022, for a total of six monthly all-time records:

– March (2): Montenegro and Cyprus;
– April (2): Andorra, Laos

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2022

– Highest temperature ever recorded in January in North America: 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Gallinas, Mexico, January 1;

– Highest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere (tie) and world record for highest temperature ever recorded in January: 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, Australia, January 13;

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in South America: 32.2°C (90.0°F) at Pampa del Infierno, Argentina, January 17; and

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in January in the Northern Hemisphere: 29.3°C (84.7°F) at Kenieba, Mali, on January 15 (and again on January 30).

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

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Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...