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Winter blast was one to remember

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Not much happened in February except wind and heat, ice and snow and one of the coldest cold waves we’ve had in years. 

At least we had plenty of warning.  Over a week before the Arctic air mass swept into North Texas, we were watching a significant change in the wave pattern of troughs and ridges that circles the northern hemisphere.  As a ridge of high pressure backed off the west coast into the near Pacific, it formed the perfect pathway for frigid air, dislodged from the Northwest Territories, to slide into the lower 48. 

On the last night of January, light rain accompanied the Arctic blast.  The 33 degrees recorded early on the morning of Tuesday, February 1st was the warmest temperature Denton would reach until the following Saturday afternoon.  We spent about 100 consecutive hours below freezing.  Frozen pipe damage statewide totaled between 50 and 100 million dollars, some of it due to the involuntary rolling power outages on Wednesday, February 2.     

Several factors made February’s cold wave memorable, most notably the below-zero wind chills for nearly three days and nights.  (By the way, wind chill is a subjective, not precise reading, but it’s a good indication of how quickly you might be exposed to frostbite.) 

February 1st, high/low = 33/12.
February 2nd, high/low = 18/11
February 3rd, high/low = 21/13
February 4th, high/low = 27/10

The other memorable thing about our cold wave was the fact that it was bracketed with an ice storm at the beginning and a snowstorm at the end.  Even so, the .71” of moisture received during February was sharply below our normal 2.55” of rain. 

Our average high for the entire month was 60 degrees.  Average low was 35.  Taken as a whole, February’s average temperature of 47.4 was .6 degrees below normal.  And as winter comes to a close, most figures indicate it will be our coldest “La Nina” winter since 1989, which was brutal, if you remember.  We bounced back nicely in the last half of the month.  Denton reached 82 degrees on the 18th.   

Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center detects the cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures of the current La Nina to be weakening toward a neutral reading by mid-spring.  That means little in the way of unusual trends in our upcoming warm up.  And considering how short we are in ground moisture already, we would prefer to see a wetter-than-normal trend about now. 

Just remember, severe weather season is already here.  Please check out my free website:  www.Bradsweather.com and keep up with the weather on the primary Emergency Alert Station for North Texas, WBAP 820 AM / 96.7 FM.

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM. Follow him online at www.WBAP.com and www.bradsweather.com. Paul Ruekberg of NewsWatch Dallas contributed to this report.

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About The Author

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist for WBAP 820/570 KLIF/99.5 "The Wolf." Read his column on Denton County weather each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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