Discover the Biggest April Snowstorm to Ever Hit Washington State

Written by Jaydee Williams
Published: April 14, 2023
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The state of Washington is one of the most diverse places in terms of climate. It sees snowstorms, rainstorms, sunshine, and clouds. It is typically thought of as a rainy state, although that assumption isn’t entirely correct. The western side of Washington, divided by the Cascade Mountain Range, has relatively mild weather. It also has the most cities and a much higher population than the eastern side of the state. In the summer, temperatures are usually no higher than 79°F, and in the winter, no lower than 45°F. It is certainly rainier on the west side than on the eastern side of the state.

The eastern part of Washington receives very little rain, with most of it being blocked by the mountains. It also experiences higher highs in the summer and lower low temperatures in the winter than the western portion. The mountains receive the most rain in the state, averaging close to 150 inches of rain per year.

The first snowfall usually happens in November, occasionally occurring in late October. Washington has very few extreme weather conditions and doesn’t see many tornadoes, blizzards, or windstorms. However, it does have a few April snowstorms on record, with the largest one occurring in 2008.

When Was the Biggest Snowstorm in April in Washington?

One of the biggest snowfalls to occur in April in Washington occurred on April 18, 2008. This year had seen a particularly cold winter, so it wasn’t too surprising to see snow forecasted for the state. It began falling around 3:30 pm and was treated as a novelty, as it’s rare to see snow in April. At this time, only an inch was predicted to fall in and around Seattle. 

By the time many people were heading home from work, there were quite a few inches of snow. As a result, it became difficult to drive in many places, with some locals seeing near white-out conditions. The snow continued to fall throughout the evening and into the next morning in some areas. Clearview, an unincorporated community in Snohomish County, saw the most snow, receiving 10.2 inches. 

The next day, the snow was not able to accumulate and grow any higher due to warm temperatures. At night, though, there was more snowfall, and Seattle and surrounding areas were covered in an inch or less of snow. The last snowfall to occur was on the morning of April 21, 2008, breaking a state record for the latest snowfall of the season. 

Clearview, an unincorporated community in Snohomish County, saw the most snow, receiving 10.2 inches on April 18, 2008.


What Is the Typical April Weather in Washington?

April usually brings very comfortable weather in Washington, with average highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. The temperature rarely goes below freezing, making our aforementioned snowstorm such a singularity. In western Washington, it usually rains about half of the month or more. Eastern Washington receives a bit less rain, with it occurring on about a third of days of the month. On the days it isn’t raining, it is typically cloudy and overcast. Most cities receive less than five days of sun during the month of April on average.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Stampede Pass. April brings comfortable weather in Washington, with average highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s.


How Do Late-Season Snowstorms Impact Wildlife in April?

Seasons with snowstorms that occur later in the year, like the one in 2008, have a big effect on wildlife. Most often, these snowstorms occur because winter is colder than usual. The storms can cause damage, including landslides and flooding afterward. These natural disasters can certainly impact wildlife that lives in the area. Many animals may lose their homes or food sources because of these storms. 

The cold weather can also cause a lot of winterkill to animals as large as deer, elk, and bighorns. When the snow falls due to these late-season snowstorms, it can look like a safe place to walk. However, these large animals may try to cross certain bodies of water that have thawed underneath because they have a layer of fresh snow on top. If the thin layer of ice can’t support their weight, they are plunged into icy cold water underneath. All three of these large animals are almost completely incapable of pulling themselves out of the water in this situation. 

The drop in temperature and fresh snow can also kill the vegetation that began growing after the last of the winter storms. This may mean losing a food source unexpectedly for herbivores, insects, and pollinators. It may also kill off many of the smaller game animals that were not prepared for such a large storm to occur after winter. Many animals gather a supply of food to last through the winter, but if they are blocked in their dens during springtime unexpectedly, they may not have any food left. The sudden drop in temperature and the inability to leave their dens may also affect reproduction habits for animals. Just like us humans, animals generally don’t react the best to unexpected late-season snowstorms. 

Beautiful rocky mountain bighorn sheep ram in the snow.

The cold weather can also cause a lot of winterkill to animals as large as bighorns.

©John Raptosh/

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Jaydee Williams is a writer at AZ Animals where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. She has over 5 years of experience in writing and researching and holds a Master's Degree in English from the American College of Education, which she earned in 2019. A central Florida native, Jaydee loves being on the water, playing music, and petting her cat, Beans.

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