La Niña expected to bring warmer, drier winter

September’s weather in Denton County stayed true to the warmer-and-drier-than-normal outlooks that have been so disappointingly consistent this summer. 

As the month came to an end, all of North Texas was experiencing unusually warm afternoon highs and continued drought.  If there is any silver lining, it’s that our lack of rainfall and unusually low humidity allowed our overnight lows to cool below their September norms. 

By the numbers, Denton’s average high during September 2011 was over 91, three degrees above the historic average high of 88.  But several early mornings in the 50’s allowed our average low temperature to fall to about 62, which is 5 degrees below normal for the month. 

Rainfall was only about one-third of our normal September quota.  For the month, Denton Municipal Airport recorded .87 inches as opposed to normal September rainfall of 2.55 inches.  Our best single-day rain was .72 inches on Friday, September 16.  Lantana unofficially recorded 1.11 inches that evening.

Other days with measurable rainfall were the 14th, 15th, 18th and 22nd of September.  So far this year, Denton has received roughly 17 inches of rain which is nearly 10 inches below what we normally could expect at this point of the year. 

The National Weather Service and Texas Forest Service report that overall, Texas is already two years deep into a statewide drought which could easily continue through at least the first half of 2012 – quite possibly longer.  Currently, unusually cool surface currents in the central Pacific, known as ‘La Niña’ appear likely to keep Texas, much of the South and Southwest warmer and drier than normal through next spring.   

If our weather stays true to the forecast, we can expect more sunshine, warmer daytime highs and cooler overnight lows through autumn and winter.  Lack of moisture will likely accelerate leaf-fall and tree-dormancy.  All of us homeowners will complain but farmers and ranchers will truly suffer.  We can only hope that this drought won’t be as long as the ‘mini-dust-bowl’ that kept much of Texas in drought for five to seven years during the 1950’s. 

One rancher I know said his family was forced to cut down an untold number of trees and strip off the leaves just in order to have something green to feed to their livestock.  Thankfully, we have many more reservoirs to draw from today, but water conservation will continue to grow as an issue and as a headline in the months to come.  And every time the wind blows faster than 15 mph, that little caution-alarm in our heads should warn us of how desperately dry and vulnerable to fire we are.

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


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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