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New terms help categorize April storms

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brad_bartonAlthough it seemed gloomy much of the time, March, like so many other months previous to it, was drier than normal.  Cooler, too.

Our average daily high was 62 and the average low was 44, giving us a monthly day-night average of 53 degrees, a full degree cooler than normal.  March’s reputation for wide temperature swings is still intact.  Our coldest temperature of the month was 21 degrees on March 5th.  Less than three weeks later, we topped out at 86 on the 24th.

Rainfall was frequent, but not generous.  We had one stretch of six days in a row with measurable rainfall and the first five days of the month also saw rain.  Our significant rains fell on March 4th (.27″), the 9th (.31″), the 13th (.37″) and 1.03″ was spread over the five-day period from March 18th through the 22nd.  Total rainfall for the month was 2.07″ which was nearly an inch below normal.  So far this year, Denton Enterprise Airport has recorded less than 8 inches of rain.  Most of Denton County remains in one of two categories of drought; “severe” and “extreme.”

April is traditionally our rainiest month, which gives us hope of more than three inches of rain, but there’s nothing in the near-term forecast to indicate any significant deviation from our normal temperatures and rainfall for the coming month.

April is also the month when we experience repeated outbreaks of severe weather, but there’s no reason to think it will be any better or worse than normal this year.

This year, the Storm Prediction Center is using two new terms and categories to refine its daily severe weather outlook.

Previously, the outlook used the terms “slight,” “moderate” and “high” risk of severe storms.  The two new categories are “marginal,” just below slight, and “enhanced,” which is just above slight.

The new marginal risk-level indicates a 2-to-5-percent probability of severe storms or tornadoes.  The slight-risk category is unchanged, indicating a 5% probability of tornadoes and a 15% probability of severe storms. The new enhanced category indicates a 15% probability of tornadoes and a 30% to 45% probability of severe storms, including high-end storms with two-inch hail and 75 mph winds.

Now is a good time to construct or review your severe weather emergency plan.  The basics include picking out a pantry or closet near the center of your home and stocking it with a couple flashlights and radios with fresh batteries, blankets and pillows, a first-aid kit and some fresh drinking water.

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820, 570 KLIF and 99.5 “The Wolf.”

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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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