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February warmth may foretell summer trends

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Meteorologist Brad Barton
Meteorologist Brad Barton

February in North Texas has been remarkably mild this year, and no one can blame you for thinking winter just might be over.  Allergies and weeds tell us it is.

Twice during the month, we nearly touched 80 degrees, and only once did we dip into the lower 20’s.

An average of our day-night temperatures came out to over 52 degrees, a full 5 degrees warmer than normal for February.  Our warmest reading of 79 degrees was reached on both the 19th and 20th, while our coldest reading was 22 degrees on the morning of the 4th.

The rainfall record for the month is misleading.  Outside of trace amounts on the 1st, 5th and 6th, we had only one significant rain event on the weekend of February 21st.  On the 21st, 22nd and Monday, the 23rd, we picked up nearly two inches of rain (1.98″).

February was an excellent demonstration of how El Nino winters can be warm and wet or warm and dry.  The southern half of Texas had far more rain than we did and parts of the Panhandle and West Texas suffered crippling snowstorms, but North Texas remained “just a bit outside” the precipitation footprint.

Whatever influence the 2015-16 El Nino had on our weather in North Texas, it’s gone now.  Closely following our most reliable ocean-temperature models, El Nino is fading fast and it appears ready to plunge through the neutral mark into a La Nina this summer.  Again, La Nina summers in North Texas can be mild, hot, wet or dry, but when a La Nina closely follows a strong El Nino, the most often outcome is a hot, dry summer.

Nearer term, we come to March, one of the most unpredictable months of the year.  Our average high rises nearly 10 degrees from the first to the last of the month.  We’ve had highs of 100 and lows of 25, giving us a potential 75-degree temperature swing in March.  That’s the reason we consider March the official start of our spring severe weather season in North Texas.

March rainfall can range from a .82″ to nearly 5 inches.  The current Climate Prediction Center outlook favors normal March temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation.  Considering how warm and dry February has been, and knowing that drought tends to perpetuate drought, my take is that March could be very similar to February.  If so, we’ll be warmer than normal with only two or three significant, but possibly heavy, rain events.

No one looks forward to drought, but this dry winter has allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to draw down the water level on Lewisville Lake even more, which is a comfort to half a million people who live downstream of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

 

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820/570 KLIF/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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