December weather appeared to continue the trend of drier-than-normal weather begun in November, but heavy storms at the end of the month more than filled December’s rainfall quota.
By the numbers, the highest temperature recorded at Denton Enterprise Airport was 70 on December 1st, while the coldest temperatures were 25 in the 3rd, 23 on the 4th and 27 on the 10th. The day-night monthly average temperature was about 47 degrees, roughly a degree warmer than normal.
December was a relatively windy month for Denton County and most of North Texas. On at least 15 days, wind gusts reached or exceeded 20 mph. On the 13th and 14th, winds reached 35-39 mph. On the 20th, Denton Enterprise recorded a 40 mph gust, while much of North Texas had 40-45 mph wind gusts. Winds reached 33-37 mph on the 26th and 27th.
A powerful Pacific storm system produced heavy rain and storm damage across North and Central Texas on the night of the 26th. Although no official damage reports were received from Denton County, widespread straight-line wind damage was common across North, Central and East Texas. North of Bryan on Highway 6, the town of Hearne suffered severe wind damage, but no injuries. Three years earlier, on December 26th, a tornado outbreak killed 10 near Garland and Rowlett.
Rainfall was infrequent, but generous at times. Over the 6th, 7th and 8th of December, .85″ fell. An additional .30″ fell over the 12th, 13th and 14th, with only .02″ falling on the 19th. The biggest rainfall, 1.87″, occurred in heavy storms on the 26th. Total rainfall as of December 29th was 3.10″ which was .85″ above normal. Year-to-date, Denton has received over 41.5 inches of rain, which is about 4″ above normal. Another potential half-inch was rain was expected on New Year’s Eve.
It has been a wet year no doubt, the second wettest on record in fact. DFW Airport recorded 55.51” of rain as of December 28, far above the yearly average of 35.85 inches.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting relatively mild and dry conditions for most of Texas during the first half of January, followed by an increase in precipitation but no unusual temperature trends in February. Government forecasters are increasingly certain of an El Nino developing in the Pacific, but its impacts on North Texas cannot be forecast at this time and wouldn’t occur until spring, anyway.
For what it’s worth, some private/commercial meteorologists are predicting a significant cold wave in the eastern half of the country in late January-early February. It’s certainly worth watching.
It’s important to note that North Texas has experienced damaging, dangerous storms in every month of the year. Additionally, a normal winter generally brings at least 3 days of measurable ice, sleet or snow to North Texas, and that’s usually just enough for us.
I hope you have a safe, healthy and happy new year!
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist for WBAP820/570KLIF/99.5, ‘The Wolf.’