December was typified by generous, sorely-needed rains. This past month, we picked up 4.35” officially at DFW Airport, putting this December easily within the Top-20 wettest Decembers on record. Denton Municipal Airport was a little drier, reporting 3.92” during the month which is still 1.67” above normal.
Something else that made December notable was the frequency of our rains. Our best rains occurred on Dec. 4 (1.27”), Dec 15, (.79”), Dec. 3 (.60”), Dec. 5 (.45”), and Dec. 14 (.29”). In addition to those five days, we had nine more days of detectable or measurable rainfall for a total of 14 rainy days. What’s more, we never had more than a four-day stretch without rain.
Our warmest day in Denton County was Dec. 14, when we reached 68 degrees. Our coldest morning was Dec 7th when we touched 19 degrees. Overall, our average high was about 53, the average low 36 and that worked out very close to our historic temperature norms for December.
There’s no doubt all of North Texas was significantly warmer and drier than normal for two years in a row. DFW’s annual rainfall total of 25.88” was nearly 10” below normal for the year. Denton Municipal received an estimated 27” of rain which was also well below normal, but it was enough to bring much of the region out of the ‘drought’ category into the ‘abnormally dry’ category. Still, many of the lakes we depend on for drinking, sanitation and recreation are entering 2012 well below their conservation-levels. And if we have a winter and spring similar to what we had earlier this year, (2.23” from January through March of 2011), we can expect more aggressive water-rationing and urgent warnings about fire danger.
Our weather outlook is not quite as grim now as it was earlier in the year. The unusually cool ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific have warmed slightly to roughly 1 degree below normal. Those temperatures are holding at this time, indicating no trend, but at least the La Nina in the Pacific is not getting any worse.
There’s no firm connection, but it is possible that unusually heavy earthquake activity surrounding the Pacific plate may have warmed the intensely cold waters near the ocean floor and may influence ocean currents and thus air currents in the weeks and months ahead.
The longer-range forecasts from the National Climate Prediction Center have eased up slightly on the warmer-and-drier-than-normal forecasts for the next three months. For at least the next two months though, that means an increased chance of wintry weather.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of WeatherInTouch.net warning technologies.