December’s weather was mixed; warmer than normal, but also wetter than normal, which reversed the trend of insufficient rainfall for most of autumn.
Our warmest reading was 83 degrees December 4th. Four days later, on the morning of the 8th, we dropped to 16 degrees (That’s how piano-tuners clean up). With an average high of 58 and an average low of 35, our overall average temperature for December was 47 which was 2 degrees warmer than normal.
Rainfall improved. Denton Enterprise Airport recorded .22″ on the 4th, .41″ on the 16th, 1.6 inches on the 18th and another .63 on the 22nd for a monthly total of 2.87 inches, which was .45″ wetter than normal. For all of 2017, Denton has received about 32 inches of rain, which is about 6 inches drier than normal for the year. As of December 26th, the U.S. Drought Monitor classified all of Denton County as in “Moderate Drought.”
As 2017 came to a close, North Texas was finally facing the prospect of some wintry precipitation. An intense Arctic high descended out of Canada, dropping temperatures into the 20’s on New Year’s Eve. Spotty, light accumulations of freezing drizzle and snow flurries collected on bridges and overpasses.
Despite the early cold snap, the Climate Prediction Center continues to favor a warmer and drier winter for North Texas and most of the southern third of the country. The La Nina (cooler temperatures in the central Pacific) will tend to steer wet weather systems and cold fronts north of Texas during January, February and March, which will make for repeated harsh winter outbreaks over the northeast third of the country. That’s not to say we won’t have our share of winter weather. All it takes is one good cold snap that coincides with overrunning Pacific moisture and energy, or worse, Gulf moisture and instability.
Some cold weather safety tips: Police advise you not to ‘warm up’ your car, leaving it unattended, even in your driveway. First, cars today warm up sufficiently in the first few minutes of driving. Second, you can get a citation for leaving a running car unattended. If in doubt about weather and road conditions, the best thing to do is stay put.
There’s nothing cozier than an old Dearborn gas space heater. Just remember, keep a low blue flame and make sure it’s property vented. An orange flame means you’re burning up oxygen. Unvented space heaters can be deadly. Never use them without leaving a window cracked open nearby to insure oxygen flow and never overnight. In case of a wintertime power outage, never bring a gasoline-powered generator inside, even into the garage. Most fireplaces are terribly inefficient heat producers.
Stay safe and remember, spring is only three months away.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP820/570KLIF/99.5 ‘The Wolf.’