Winter warmth breaks records

Meteorologist Brad Barton

This past month was the warmest February on record in two ways and resulted in the warmest “meteorological winter” ever in North Texas (Dec, Jan, Feb).

First, temperatures:  Our average high in Denton during February was 69 degrees.  Our average low was near 45, giving us a day/night average monthly temperature of 57, a full 10 degrees warmer than normal.  And that takes into account the brief cold snap that dropped Denton to 30 on the 24th and 37 on the 25th.

Moreover, DFW International recorded 14 days from December through February with highs of 80 degrees or above.  Fort Worth Meacham Field reached 91 on the 23rd.  Lots of old records fell in February.

Rainfall was lacking.  Through the 26th, Denton Enterprise Airport recorded only 1.72″ of rain, which was .69″ below normal, but new storms were forecast to bring an additional half-inch to an inch of rain to Denton just before March.  Added to January’s above-normal rains of 2.96″, we have accumulated 4.68″ of rain so far in 2017.  Our best rains were concentrated around mid-month, on the 13th and 14th, when we picked up 1.28″.  Another .44″ fell over the 19th and 20th.

No severe weather, nor any snow or ice occurred in Denton during February.  For all practical purposes, spring has nearly sprung and our 30-degree reading on February 25th may be our last freeze of the season.  Neither the Global Forecast System nor the European models indicate any more below-normal temperatures through the first week of March.  And once we get past St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve passed our average last killing frost for the year.  That’s not to say we can’t freeze in early April.  We can, and have, but it’s very rare.  Judging from high concentrations of tree pollen, it appears we’ve moved from flu-season directly into allergy-season.  Again.

Government forecasters issued their final update on the La Nina (cooler than normal water temperatures in the central Pacific) on February 9th.  Ocean temperatures have stabilized at historic norms. That should mean a let-up in the frequent heavy storms plaguing the California coast.  For all the wind-damage and anxiety over dam breaches, the winter snowpack and heavy rains ended what some had termed California’s “permanent drought.”  It actually lasted about 5 years.  Only a few pockets of even “moderate drought” remain in California now.
For North Texas, government forecasters are predicting normal rainfall during the spring, but consistently above-normal temperatures through spring and summer.

Again this year, WBAP 820 and WFAA-TV will host “WeatherCon” at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field, Saturday, April 22, beginning at 9 a.m.  Come and go as you please.  Admission to the museum, normally $7-10, is free to everyone during WeatherCon.  There will be booths, exhibits, stage presentations, demonstrations and lively question-and-answer sessions with Brad Barton, Pete Delkus and other forecasters and storm-chasers.  We hope to see you there!

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP820/570KLIF/99.5 The Wolf


Brad Barton
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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