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La Niña could dash snowy winter hopes

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Meteorologist Brad Barton

Looking ahead to “Meteorological Winter,” (December, January, February), the La Niña that continues to develop in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific is finally confirmed.

Although a weak La Niña, with temperature deficits of less than 1 degree Celsius, there’s enough certainty to mention the general outlook for Texas weather, which is above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation in La Niña winters.  And in general, it seems most Texans favor warm, dry winters (otherwise, they’d probably live somewhere else).

One less certain factor is the length of this La Niña.  Government forecasters believe it will be relatively short, which might tend to give us cooler, wetter weather in March, but that’s highly speculative.

As for a “White Christmas,” don’t get your hopes up.  The most common meteorological definition of a White Christmas is as follows: Measurable snow (more than flurries) that falls on Christmas Eve and is visible Christmas morning, or measurable snow that falls any time on Christmas Day, preferably in the morning.

According to the National Weather Service, on Christmas Day, 2012, early morning thunderstorms gave way to snow and sleet.  Western Denton County received up to 5″ of sleet and snow mixed.  It was more of a “Slush Christmas” in many parts of North Texas.

Our last real White Christmas was a Christmas Eve snowstorm in 2009 that left snow on the ground Christmas morning.

The long-term trend is a White Christmas occurring roughly four times within 100 years.  Although our climate trends have become wetter in recent decades, our overnight lows have been trending warmer, which makes a White Christmas very elusive in North Texas.  Still, Santa always manages to muddle through, somehow.

Have a safe, happy and meaningful Holiday Season!


Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP820/570KLIF/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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