January’s weather continued the trend of easing Denton County and most of North Texas out of our historic drought, but don’t read too much into our excess rainfall just yet.
December’s rainfall of over 4 inches was followed up by another 5.4 inches in January at Denton Municipal Airport.
January’s rainfall total at DFW was an even more impressive 6.18 inches, making January of 2012 the second wettest January on record.
Also notable was the 4.27 inches of rain that fell in a 24-hour period covering parts of January 24th and 25th. That is now the heaviest 24-hour rain recorded during any January since 1898, the start of reliable climate records here.
Since December 1st, most of North Texas has received over 10 inches of rain, which caused the Palmer Drought Index and the USDA’s U.S. Drought Monitor to remove much of North and Northeast Texas from the ‘drought’ category. December’s rains recharged soil moisture.
January’s rains began the important runoff process which helped recharge area lakes. Meanwhile most of the rest of the state west of I-35 has had fewer and lighter rains, but it could be worse.
Now, to throw a ‘dry blanket’ on things, our overall weather pattern shows no better than normal rainfall over the next 30-60 days. Our long-term rainfall deficits going back to the early fall of 2010 still exceed 10 inches. That damage is over and can’t be undone, but we are still in need of several more inches of rain to bring area reservoirs back above their conservation levels before the spring wildfire season or another hot, dry summer.
The other notable thing about this past January is a lack of cold weather. Our average high was nearly 62 degrees, which was well above our historic January average of 57. Our average low was 38, nearly 3 degrees warmer than normal.
The latest monthly weather outlooks indicate North Texas will continue to be warmer than normal during February and March with near-normal rainfall. From that we can expect an early start to the severe weather season.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of WeatherInTouch.net warning technologies.