Rainfall offers little relief from drought

Other than a monstrous hailstorm that battered parts of southern Denton County, the weather of June 2011 can be summed up as unusually hot, windy and ‘almost rainy.’

We started off the month already a week into a drought.  And through the first 19 days of June, things were looking pretty grim with Denton receiving little more than trace of rain.  But a change in the upper-air pattern allowed intense thunderstorms to explode over much of North Texas, dropping over two-and-a-half inches of rain in Denton and even more in other areas. 

Total official rainfall for this month was 2.55”, slightly below our average June rains of 2.57”.  Not bad considering, but we paid dearly for it with broken windows, damaged roofs, garages, fences and the loss of some large mature trees.   

A strong high-pressure ridge had developed in late May and was baking North Texas as it already baked much of West Texas.  High temperatures, which normally stay in the 80’s in May and June, jumped quickly into the 90’s and stayed there.  Our first 100-degree was on June 13th.  We reached 103 on the 17th and 19th.  On June 18th, we touched 104. 

Then a strong upper-level storm system from the Pacific Northwest crossed the Rockies into the Great Plains.  The unusually cold mid-level temperatures in that storm system shoved our high-pressure dome down into Mexico. 

Meanwhile, surface lows generated by the storm system in the Midwest began drawing rich Gulf moisture across Texas.  The combination of unusually hot temperatures and high humidity in the path of a late-season mid-latitude cyclone generated explosive severe weather from the Dakotas nearly to Del Rio. 

Violent thunderstorms with golf-ball sized hail, 75-mph winds and constant lightning raged through Denton County in waves on the nights of June 20th and 21st knocking out electricity to thousands.  Rural areas northwest of Denton witnessed wall clouds and funnel clouds.  The more heavily-developed suburbs of southern Denton County including Lantana, Argyle, Flower Mound and Corinth were especially hard-hit by wind and hail.  But the rains that came through swept all the way to the Hill Country and coast.  Every drop was welcome news to homeowners, farmers, ranchers and the many volunteer fire departments, already stretched to the breaking point. 

By late June however, the high-pressure dome was rebuilding over all of Texas and the outlook for July is hotter and drier than normal.  With the last remnants of La Nina flickering out, there is little reason to expect above-normal storm generation from the Pacific.  Another important factor is the lack of near-surface soil-moisture which consumes solar radiation in the evaporation process.  The drier the ground becomes, the faster it heats up every day, further drying and warming the atmosphere which reduces our chance of rain.  We are back in that cycle now and should plan on these conditions persisting through July, August and probably much of September. 

It looks like a long, hot summer. 

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of WeatherInTouch.net warning technologies.



Brad Bartonhttp://www.wbap.com/weather-forecast/
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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