The Science Behind the Rhyme

Shanyn Valentine

Splash. Raindrops hit the pavement as students hurry to trailers, trying to avoid the rain. Grumbling over the never ending rainfall, the prospect of having to go back outside after class haunts those who have to leave the building during the day. The well versed rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers” might be echoing in someone’s head. Students bundling up in raincoats, and sloshing around in those waterlogged Rainbow flip flops.

Analytically speaking, “April showers bring May flowers” is a personification of patience. Waiting patiently for the rain of April to pass before the flowers of May start to bloom. And while the gray skies of April lower morale and increase the sale of rainboots, the sun starts to shine in May, and spirits tend to rise, along with the pollen count.

Scientifically speaking, there is a pattern behind the rhyme, and NBC12 Richmond Meteorologist Jim Duncan, breaks it down: “April is often a showery month as we move from the colder winter season into spring and more strong cold fronts move through,” says Duncan. However, he goes on to explain that sometimes Virginia doesn’t exactly fit the model. “Here in Virginia, many flowers are already blooming in April, so the saying might actually apply more so in areas to the north of Virginia.”

Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 1.27.03 PMWhile April may seem like a very rainy month, several other weather phenomenon also have been known to occur. Duncan has seen every kind of weather in April, from large thunderstorms that approach on tornados, to beautiful sunny days. “I would say snowstorms in April are the most unusual to see. We have had some episodes of snow mostly in early April, but it rarely amounts to much, and when it does it melts away quickly,” Duncan says. Between 2010 and 2015, the record high for the month was recorded at 92 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010. The record low was 28 degrees in 2013. Average temperatures range in the mid to upper 60s throughout the month. Throughout the last four years, April has seen a lot more rain than in years past. The highest amount of total precipitation occurring only last year.  

No matter how one interprets the rhyme: April showers bring patience, or at least that’s what our parents hope to teach us, but April showers do actually bring May flowers as well. So, dance in the rain, jump in puddles, crack out those rain-boots, umbrellas and ponchos, and enjoy the rain. Soon we’ll see the sun, and the flowers…ACHOO…

Can I have the-ACHOO-rain back now?

Header Photo courtesy of Jonathan Billinger (Wikimedia Commons)