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May was lacking in moisture

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Meteorologist Brad Barton

While much of the Northern Hemisphere suffered early heat waves in May, North Texas temperatures turned out to be close to normal.  Denton County received very little rainfall, but we had some serious winds.

Our coolest high was 73 on May 4th.  Our hottest temperature was a muggy 96-degrees on May 26th.  Our coolest minimum temperature was 37 on the morning of May 1st and we had several mornings down in the 40’s.  Our day/night monthly average was 71, near normal.  Our warmest low was 77 on the morning of May 27th (probably a record “warm minimum,” but statistics on “opposite records” are hard to track down except in major cities).

Rainfall was disappointing on several counts:

  1. Actual monthly rainfall of 2.19 inches was more than 2 inches below our normal 4.3 inches for May.
    2. Most of April’s near-normal rains fell on April 2nd.  It was nearly a month between good rains.
    3.  Denton is now nearly 5 inches behind on rainfall for the year.
    4.  Without normal May rains, we could face accelerating drought conditions in our hottest months.

Outside of a trace, Denton Enterprise Airport recorded no rain until .04″ on May 11.  We picked up .69″ on the 17th, .11″ over the 20th and 21st, just over an inch spread over the 22nd and 23rd and .34″ on the 28th.  Severe hail, tornadoes and flooding rains generally bypassed Denton County and most of North Texas during May, but not the winds.

Early on the morning of May 18, a line of powerful storms raked through Denton County, producing almost no rain but near-hurricane-force winds tore open at least 15 hangars and tossed more than a dozen small planes, most of which were tied down at Denton’s Enterprise Airport.  Damage was extensive.  The automated weather sensor at the airport recorded a 108-mile-per-hour wind gust, but later turned out to have been already damaged.  NWS survey teams said winds in excess of 60 mph were sufficient to cause the amount of damage that was done.  In the record book, Denton recorded a 66 mph wind gust on the 18th.

Looking ahead, the only clear trend in the extended forecast is for warmer-than-normal temperatures for June and rainfall near normal (3-4″) which would be a big improvement over May, but don’t bet on normal rains.

Surface water temperatures in the El Nino-monitored central Pacific are near to slightly above normal.  An El Nino may yet occur late this summer or fall, but there is no indication it will be strong enough or long enough to have any appreciable impact on North Texas weather.

Nevertheless, multiple storm systems lined up in the tropical Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska will give North Texas plenty of unsettled weather, including the risk of severe weather, during early June.  If they miss us, the weather hazard we are most likely to face is drought.

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP820/570KLIF/99.5 The Wolf and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. 

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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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