February 2012 reversed a two-month trend of better-than-average rainfall in North Texas.
The historic average for February rainfall is 2.66 inches. Even with the extra leap-day that had a trace of precipitation, Denton recorded 1.91 inches of rainfall in February, which was nearly three-quarters of an inch short for the month. December had nearly 4 inches and January had well over 5 inches.
February’s below-normal rainfall is more line with the recent long-range forecasts which have been influenced by the La Nina pattern of cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the Pacific. The latest forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center indicate that while ocean temperatures were nearly neutral late last year, a weak La Nina has re-emerged. That could mean the end of wetter-than-normal conditions in most of Texas.
Denton had frequent rains early in the month with trace amounts on the first and second; .43” on the third; 13” on the ninth; .04” on the tenth; a trace on the twelfth; .21” on the thirteenth; a trace on the 15th; .05” on the seventeenth and our best and last measurable rain in February was 1.03” on the 18th.
In examining February’s temperatures, you might be surprised to learn we weren’t really significantly warmer than normal, but very close to average. The lack of any real polar fronts during the month and the mild temperatures of the last 10 days of February made it feel as if winter might be over. Recent high pollen-counts support that.
During February, our average high runs from 58 degrees on the first to 64 degrees by the end of the month. Our average low moves from 36 to 43 degrees during the course of the month. It works out to an average monthly high of 60 and an average low of 39. As the month came to a close, February had an average high of about 61 and an average low of 39. We did have a few cold days with highs in the 30’s and 40’s and lows in the 20’s, but nothing extraordinary.
Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-normal temperatures for all of Texas – especially our part of the state. For now, rainfall is expected to be average for March, which is 3.5 inches, but the latest forecasts are trending drier once again. It’s not uncommon to have several outbreaks of severe storms in North Texas during March, even with below-normal rainfall.
March in North Texas has historically been exceptional. We’ve had lows of 25 degrees, highs of 100 and two-inch snowfalls as late as March 29th. Any forecaster who wants to improve their accuracy rate should take as many days off in March as possible.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of WeatherInTouch.net.