May weather packed a punch

May of 2011 continued the pace of frequent outbreaks of violent weather that began in April.  The two peak months of severe weather in North Texas have lived up to the hype and then some. 

The cause is a particularly energetic jet stream across the Southern Plains this spring. 

Another factor was the wide swing of temperatures we experienced during May.  Our coldest temperature for the month was 36 degrees May 3.  Our warmest was 95 on Saturday, May 28, during Memorial weekend. 

The final factor was a persistent flow of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.  As low-level moisture and warm temperatures converged at the surface and rose into colder low-pressures aloft, we lived through some very dangerous weather during May.  Fortunately, our storms were not as violent as the ones in Joplin, Tuscaloosa or much of the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys.  That only one storm-related fatality has been confirmed in North Texas so far this spring is a tribute to the readiness and responsiveness of North Texans.  

Hail 1” or larger and winds of 56 mph or more produced scattered storm damage on May 1st, 11th, 20th, 22nd and the 23rd.  By far the worst outbreak was May 24th when the National Weather Service confirmed at least 9 separate tornadoes in their North Texas operational area, including an EF-2 twister that touched down in the Country Lakes subdivision near the Argyle/Denton border.

According to the National Weather Service storm survey team, damage was found in the subdivision that was consistent with wind speeds between 115 and 125 mph.  The tornado traveled approximately 1.2 miles on the ground and had a maximum width of 220 yards.

While anchoring live coverage of the weather emergency on WBAP’s that Tuesday night, I personally tracked six suspected tornadic circulations in just the DFW metro area. 

In addition to the wind damage done to trees, power lines and homes, repetitive hail storms last month have done untold damage.  It may be weeks before insurance adjusters can estimate the overall storm damage totals in North Texas.  Some homeowners who rushed to replace their roofs after the April 10th and 11th outbreaks will have to replace their new roofs after less than 6 weeks. 

As a meteorologist and homeowner, I can recommend an ‘impact resistant’ roof.  The extra you pay out of pocket to upgrade can lower your premiums for years and minimize wind and water damage to your contents even if the roof is destroyed by hail. 

By the numbers, our average high was 81 and the average low was about 59, giving us an average temperature near 70 degrees, which is close to normal for May. 

The heavy rains of multiple severe weather outbreaks gave us 5.9 inches of rain which was slightly wetter than our historic May average of 5.7 inches.  But due to the near total drought of February and March, Denton is still about 3.5 inches short on rainfall so far this year.  And on at least five days, winds gusted above 40 mph.  Our peak wind gust was 54 mph on May 11.   

Looking ahead, forecasters expect near-normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific and other climate factors will result in warmer-and-drier-than-normal conditions for North Texas during June. 

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of

Brad Barton
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820/570 KLIF/99.5 “The Wolf” and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Read his column on Denton County weather each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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