March 2013 will be known as the “month of the late freeze;” and not just a freeze, but a hard freeze. On the mornings of March 25 and 26, the temperature at Denton Municipal Airport bottomed-out at 25 degrees.
An important component to a freeze is the amount of time below freezing. Temperatures fell below freezing for over six hours on the 25th and were sub-freezing for over seven hours on the 26th.
For many, this late freeze threatened more than spring bulbs or tomato plants. Winter wheat and fruit trees that were in bloom may have suffered serious damage. Texas Agriculture officials note the persistent drought may have worked to our advantage by delaying the emergence of blooming plants. We hope so.
March was a cool, dry month. Our average high was 65 and our average low was 40. The average temperature last month was just over 52 degrees which was about two degrees cooler than normal.
Rainfall fell slightly short. March’s normal rainfall is over 3 inches but as the month came to a close 2.94 inches had fallen in Denton- most of it (1.70”) on one day, March 9th. The only other decent rains were .24” on March 23rd and 1 inch the early morning of March 30th.
Our persistent drought in Denton is now categorized as “severe” by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Parts of northern Denton County have reached the “extreme” category. In the last six months, only January had above-normal rainfall.
Since April 1st, 2012, Denton has received just over 20 inches of rain which represents a rainfall-deficit of nearly 15 inches.
Our latest extended-range forecast models predict above-normal temperatures and near-normal rainfall for North Texas in April.
April rainfall in Denton usually averages about 3 inches. If April’s extended-range forecasts are correct, our spring wildfire season could be very difficult. Most Texas counties west of Interstate 35 are already under burn bans, including Wise County. We can expect increasingly strict water-use regulations in the weeks and months ahead.
Despite the dismal drought news, April will surely bring its normal share of spring storms to North Texas. This is a good time to review your severe weather plans, including how you are notified of warnings in your area, where you’ll take shelter when severe weather threatens your area.
Here are four websites with detailed information and dozens of links to weather emergency sources:
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist for WBAP 820AM/96.7FM/KLIF 570AM and president of WeatherInTouch.net.