January 2010 will be remembered for its extreme cold snap and wetter-than-normal weather. Still, January’s average temperature of 44.3 came in very close to our historical average of 44.1 degrees.
By far, the biggest weather event of the month was the “Siberian Express” that invaded Texas during the first week of the year. And so soon after the Christmas Eve blizzard two weeks earlier, no one could be blamed for complaining about the double-dose of winter.
“Siberian Express” is more than a catch-phrase. While a routine arctic cold front was passing through North Texas on January 3, a bitter air mass from Siberia was building up pressure in the Northwest Territories. As a Canadian/Pacific storm system crossed North America from west to east, its counterclockwise circulation pulled the plug on the cold air in the Yukon and it rushed all the way through Texas deep into Mexico. The strength of the cold air was evident as Brownsville dipped to 29 degrees on the 10th.
Here in North Texas, it was our worst cold snap since February of 1996. The DFW area was at or below freezing for nearly two days (42 hours). Wind chills fell below zero on January 7. The official high at DFW on January 8 was 30 degrees. Denton reached only 28 after a morning low of 10 degrees. And the onset of the cold air mass was neither deep nor dry enough to prevent some light icing across North Texas that resulted in dozens of school closings and hundreds of accidents.
Our temperatures finally struggled above normal January 11 and stayed above normal until the 29th. Preliminary figures show Denton reached 75 on January 13th and 73 on the 22nd.
January was not without severe weather during our warm period. An influx of warm Gulf moisture, combined with a fast upper-level disturbance, set off a line of severe thunderstorms that bypassed much of Denton County, but dropped hail the size of tennis balls on Heath in Rockwall County and produced 5 tornadoes east of Dallas from Sulphur Springs to Canton.
Significant rainfall held off until the month was nearly over. DFW reported measurable precipitation between a trace and .15” on the 6th, 7th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 23rd and 27th. The heaviest rains of nearly 2.4” fell January 28 and 29 when a Pacific storm system slowed and intensified while crossing Texas from Mexico.
January’s total rainfall of 2.76” was well above January’s historical average of 1.9.” Following last year’s pattern, the wetter-than-normal conditions are related to the strengthening El Nino regime of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific which we expect to continue.
Looking ahead, February should continue to be rather gloomy with more clouds and precipitation than normal and temperatures close to their seasonal norms.
Spring begins March 20!
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist for WBAP NewsTalk 820 and heard every weekday morning. He also hosts a local website; www.brads-weather.com. The National Weather Service and Paul Ruekberg of “Newswatch Dallas” contributed to this report.